Why I am against conversion – Maria Wirth

Maria Wirth

“As a child, I believed whatever I was told. But in high school I started questioning what I had been told about the Catholic religion. I could no longer believe in a God who sits in heaven, loves only Christians, and sends all others to hell.” – Maria Wirth

In 1999, the Pope declared in Mumbai that in the 21st century the cross will be planted in Asia. Strangely, there was not much objection in the media that the Pope expressed so openly his eagerness to convert Hindus. Not only the Pope but also the different evangelical sects want to convert Hindus in big numbers. And unfortunately, they are doing it successfully because they have lots of money. In the last 20 years, after the Pope made his statement, Christian missionaries have become increasingly visible, blatant and controversial.

As I grew up a Christian, I would like to share my observations from a personal angle.

I noticed that most Hindus are very cautious when it comes to religion. They take care “not to offend the sensibilities” of the followers of Christianity and Islam. Yet on the other hand, Christians and Muslims don’t hesitate to offend the sensibilities of Hindus, and even badly demean them.

Many Indians argue that because those religions are in the minority, their followers need special consideration so that they don’t feel threatened by the Hindu majority.

It is true that those religions are in the minority in India, but worldwide, Christianity and Islam have the biggest number of followers. Both religions have also great financial and political clout to achieve their goal, which is to bring as many Hindus as possible into their fold. This clout is reflected even in the Indian media. Just observe how favourably mainstream media reports on minorities and how unfavourably on the majority. I can’t help feeling that there is a clever public relations strategy and maybe also bribe money involved. In contrast, Hindus don’t seem to have a PR strategy. “Truth will triumph”, is their motto, even if it takes ages….

Why no debates on religious matters?

Sometimes I hear the following argument from Hindus: “Just because missionaries despise Hinduism, Hinduism does not become bad.” This is of course true, but why not refute the obnoxious, false accusations that Hinduism is a primitive polytheistic religion and Hindus are sinful idol-worshippers?

Such accusations do not only completely misinterpret Hindu Dharma, but they are meant to help the Christian agenda to wean away Hindus from their faith.

Hindus should at least explain the basics of Hindu Dharma, and show how profound they are, if not pointing out the shortcomings of the dogmatic founder religions.

Pointing out the shortcomings of other religions seems to be taboo for Hindus. I wonder why? Debates on religious matters were common in ancient India and were of the highest order. Women also took part in those debates, which are recorded in the Upanishads.

Yet today there is hardly any discussion on religion or philosophy. One reason may be that a part of the intellectual class in India has been influenced by the British to such an extent that they adopted their ignorant view that Hinduism is primitive without ever reading any of the ancient texts. It is a small, but influential group that is ever ready to loudly defend the minority religions.

Christianity (and Islam) divide humanity into those who go to heaven and those who go to hell

Most Hindus are good natured and consider all religions as equal, as all believe in the same God, as there is of course only one creator. Moreover, all religions have good points. They all stress the need for a moral life. They all give suggestions how to connect with God in prayer.

Yes, it’s true, but two religions have a very negative point which nullifies the good points. This negative point is that they divide humanity into those who are right and go to heaven and those who are wrong and go to hell—without any proof. Christianity is one of those religions (Islam is the other one). It declares that it is not only superior but it alone is true, and therefore everyone needs to join it to be saved. The Church claims that Jesus Christ himself commanded his disciples to go out and baptise all nations (Matthew 28.19). Therefore, they believe that they have the “divine duty” to convert the whole world. And the Church goes about it with great zeal and dubious means.  If Jesus Christ was indeed a historical person—some historians doubt it—he might be shocked to see what is happening in his name.

What makes Christianity so special that it declares itself as alone true?

The main point is the status of Jesus Christ. The Church says that he is not only above normal humans but also above enlightened sages and avatars. He is the “only son of God”, whom God had sent to earth and who, through his death, has saved mankind from the original sin which Adam and Eve committed (their sin was that they ate an apple from the forbidden tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden).

This claim that Jesus is the only son of God cannot be verified. It has to be believed. It is a dogma and dogma means there is no proof. So why should one believe it? The reason is that bishops had decided in the Council of Nicaea some 1700 years ago, that Jesus is the son of God, and Christians have to believe it.

Many Christians do believe it because they hear it from childhood. I, for example, “knew” already in primary school in a small town in Germany, that we, the Roman Catholics, are “right” and chosen by God and all others, including our Protestant neighbours, who had fled from the Russians to our small town at the end of the Second World War, were “wrong”. Those neighbours had a little girl of my age and we played together, but I would not have gone to her church. I “knew” it was a sin….

In 1965, in the Second Vatican Council, the Catholics reconciled with the Protestants, and it was no longer a sin to pray together. But Hindus remain in the category which needs to be converted or else they go to hell….

How I got doubts

As a child, I believed whatever I was told. But in high school I started questioning what I had been told about the Catholic religion. I could not any longer believe in a God who sits in heaven, loves only Christians, and sends all others to hell.

A brother of my mother was a priest and, in his library, I read about the history of the Church. It was an eye-opener—how decadent the popes were, how brutal and bloody the conversion of North and South America was, how dissenters were imprisoned, tortured and killed, how the bishops schemed for power and wealth…. Together with religion, I was about to throw out God as well, as he seemed inextricably linked with it.

Then I read an article on modern physics. It said that the whole of creation is one energy. It was for me a eureka moment. “This means there is a God!” I felt: If God is really the highest, It cannot love one group and hate others. It has to be the ground of everybody and everything.

Getting to know about the profound Vedic wisdom

When I came to India, I was amazed how profound her ancient wisdom was—a wisdom that makes no claims, which need not be blindly believed, and a wisdom which does not divide people into “us versus them”.

Brahman or “Tat” of the Vedas is not a personal God that has likes and dislikes, but It is the invisible, conscious basis of all forms and names in this creation. This conscious basis is also in our own person and can be experienced, and this makes sense. “Question, reflect and experience” is recommended.

In contrast, Christianity demands blind belief and does not encourage questions, nor experience. It claims doubts are from the devil. A Church that branded its own mystics who realised their oneness with God as heretics, cannot teach anything to India. It can only divide.

Hinduism is inclusive, Christianity is divisive

Missionaries try by hook or crook to get converts and target especially the poorer sections of society and even children. It seems as if they have a quota to achieve.

They claim that Christianity is the right faith and Hinduism is very wrong and they will land in hell if they don’t convert. This is highly divisive. Yet strangely, Christian missionaries are not called “divisive forces”, but Hindus, who object to conversion, are called divisive. Why? It does not make sense. The Upanishads claim “Tat tvam asi” (Thou are That). “Thou” means everyone, not only Hindus. This philosophy is truly universal.

Christian theologians would need to study Indian wisdom with an open mind. They would realise that dogmas are a hindrance in the process to uncover Truth. Such openness would make religion spiritual. Mystics would be appreciated. No “us versus them”, no borders, no God who belongs only to one group and who condemns the rest, just a genuine search for the One Essence beyond name and form….

Narrow-mindedness of clergy

Unfortunately, to expect broad-mindedness from Church representatives seems a long way off. As of now their course is set on confrontation. They are adamant that conversion is not only their right, but also their duty. Many Hindus still don’t get the mindset of missionaries.

For example, after my mother had passed away in Germany, I went to the priest to arrange the funeral. When he came to know that I live in India, he said, “Oh, a friend of mine just went to India.”

“I hope not for conversion”, I replied.

His reaction, “Of course for conversion. It is our duty.”

Strangely, Hindus feel, religion must not be talked about and only a few question the “one and only way” bogus doctrine. But is anything more important than to find the truth about God, us, and the world? So shouldn’t we talk about religion?

In the West many leave the Church, in India many join it

Indian converts generally join Christianity for reasons that have nothing to do with God or faith. Those converts may initially get material benefits but the price is very high. They have to despise the faith that they held dear and for which their ancestors have fought and made many sacrifices. They have to disown their devas as devils. They are coerced to put flesh from the dead body of a cow into their stomach. They have to confess a belief in dogmas which don’t make sense, like the claim that one has only one life and on the basis of this one life one will go either to heaven or hell for all eternity.

Yet slowly they, or at least their children, will become convinced that they alone have the right faith and that Hindus are inferior and damned by God. The brainwashing into Christian doctrine is much stronger in India than in Western countries. While most people in the West, who are not employed by the Church, don’t believe any longer that Hindus go to hell, even an IIT graduate convert told me that he believes it and he had already convinced his parents to convert to save themselves from hell….

I once heard Fr. Bede Griffiths, who had a Christian ashram near Trichy, giving a talk to nuns from Kerala and I was shocked how he threatened them with hell. After his talk I asked him, how could he frighten them so much. He said, “I have to strengthen their faith so that they know where the border to Hinduism is.”

Hinduism is truly universal

Hinduism has no border. It has a place for everyone. If someone worships Jesus, no Hindu will object. But Hindus need to object to the baseless claim by Christian clergy that worshipping Krishna or Shiva is wrong and will land them in hell, because this is not true and also dangerous for Hindus. It breeds hatred which can lead to hate crimes. Christian converts need to reflect on what they are taught. If they start reflecting, they will surely wonder if this Christian doctrine can possibly be true.

Some hope because most Indians can see through the agenda

When I recently took a taxi, there was a picture of Jesus on the dashboard. I asked the driver if he had converted.

“Yes,” he said.

I said, “You have become Christian from Hindu and I have become Hindu from Christian.”

He looked surprised. “Why?” he asked.

I explained a bit and said that Hindu Dharma makes sense and Christianity requires blind belief in difficult to believe claims.

Before leaving the taxi, I asked him not to look down on Hindus and Hinduism even if missionaries tell him how bad we are.

“Hindus are not bad. They are good, better than many others, and Hindu Dharma is the best option for humanity,”

He smiled and said that he didn’t believe everything that the padres told him. – Maria Wirth Blog, 1 January 2022

Koenraad Elst Quote