Is Tamil Nadu Becoming A Hotbed For Evangelists?

Transcript

Anyone who has met with evangelicals knows they are quite eager to spread their faith - that is just what they do.

But in certain states in India, their eagerness crosses a line. Perhaps several lines.

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In this episode of Swarajya Standard, we look at the one state where evangelical organisations have grown to wield enormous political clout over the years - Tamil Nadu.

Chith Bhavananda, the famous educationist seer of Tamil Nadu, had recorded an interesting confession once by a Madurai Bishop: it said that the Dravidian movement was a time bomb set by the church to destroy Hinduism.

Though dramatic, this sentiment has played out a number of times in Tamil Nadu.

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The church has engaged in creating and propagating a false history that combines Dravidian racism with evangelical Christianity. And believe us, there are quite a few around today who deal in exactly this kind of business - which is, unfortunately, a threat to ordinary Tamil life and society.

Let’s shine a light on three people in particular.

First, Bishop Ezra Sargunam.

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Just listen to what he has to say.

He is essentially saying there is no such thing as Hindu religion and that those who call themselves Hindus need to be thrashed into senses - obviously, in his view, to accept the truth of Christianity.

And this guy is no fringe. He is an influential customer with ties to the Dravidian ruling establishment - brokering political alliances and the like. And, it seems, very comfortable with advocating violence.

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When in the 1960s Sargunam was at the Kumbh to proselytise, Hindu devotees at the time had chased him away - angered by his reference to Hindu gods as Satan.

Now, he likes to claim that he has converted a crore Tamil Hindus and planted half a million churches across the state. Maybe true - but a dangerous idea even to think about it.

What else would you expect from someone who was trained by Billy Graham, that famous American pastor who was also incredibly influential in the US - despite his antisemitism and opposition to the teaching of evolution.

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Anyway, let’s move on to our next crank candidate. Meet Father Jegath Gaspar.

This so-called reverend is a Catholic priest who rose to prominence under the previous DMK rule. A veritable Rasputin of the DMK reich, Gaspar tried to secularize Hindu folk traditions. So that they could later be Christianised through minority educational institutions subsidised by a secular government.

He also ran a publication propagating the works of so-called scholar Ma. Se. Victor, who claims that Tamil was the language of Adam, spoken by all of humanity before the Tower of Babel was destroyed by God.

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Such crank theories are kept in incubation to take over the Dravidian narrative, and they find forced advocacy under the DMK regime.

So when DMK gets supported by Bishops, there is more than just vote-bank politics and ground-level bargaining of concessions going on. There is ideological vested interest in the form of promoting a racist Dravidian ideology against Hinduism and Hindus.

So let’s cap off this video with the third person on our list.

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One Mr Mohan C Lazarus. He is a controversial Christian preacher who runs an evangelical empire in Tamil Nadu. Widely perceived as a fundamentalist and a fanatical zealot, he too enjoys close links to the allegedly rational political establishment of the state.

Lazarus was born in a pious and wealthy Tamil Hindu family. He claims that when “money consuming diverse medical treatment” failed to heal his bulging heart, and he was on the death bed, “the Lord sent one of His Vessels to counter His eternally chosen tool to bring him unto His fold”. Thus Murugan morphed into Mohan Lazarus.

Lazarus is believed to have had a key role in the anti-Sterlite protests in Thoothukudi.

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He governs a vast empire, from his headquarters at Nalumavadi, a place strategically situated near the ancient and famous Hindu pilgrim centre, Thiruchendur. He is often explicitly political in his message. He shares the stage with top leaders of Dravidian parties like M K Stalin. He seems to aim for an evangelical coalition-controlled polity in Tamil Nadu.

Once in a controversial statement he said that Tamil Nadu is the stronghold of Satan, referring to a large number of temples in the state. The video went viral on social media. Take a look:

So for people like Mohan Lazarus, the presence of temples in Tamil Nadu is akin to having Satan strongholds.

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And these are exactly the kind of evangelicals Tamil Nadu should worry about. Because they have no qualms about spreading the word of Christianity while being at ease shooting down Hinduism.

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