ONE faith-based programme that Bush goes gaga about is the prison-based InnerChange Freedom Initiative started by Charles Colson. Incidentally, Colson was one of the characters from the Watergate episode; he spent seven months in prison for obstructing justice in one of the Watergate cases. “InnerChange is an intensive Bible-centered programme, ostensibly open to inmates of all religious persuasions, but every month inmates are evaluated on whether they “demonstrate a belief in Jesus Christ,” wrote Robyn E Blumner, perspective columnist of the St Petersburg Times, on September 28, 2003. “Those inmates who fail to show the proper level of piety are removed and lose the special freedoms and privileges dangled before inmates as incentives to participate,” he added. Bush introduced InnerChange into the Texas prison system when he was governor. At present, it operates in four states and the Bush government subsidises its conversion activities with the American tax-payers’ money.
What underlies all this is that the Bush administration’s conservative evangelical world view has proliferated to countries like India. Here the Church and Christian NGOs have been involved for a long time in the provision of voluntary social service. But churches and Christian NGOs in India and the trans-national (read American) faith-based NGOs who have a large presence in India have gleefully responded to the message emanating from the White House. Bush’s support for religious conversion has happened on the persuasive power of the dollar. It is safe to say that almost all evangelical organisations in India and non-Catholic churches and the Christian NGOs get their funding from their American patrons or from USAID. These groups, like CARE or World Vision tend to Christian social workers and consciously infuse Christian religiosity as part of the help they provide to socially and economically marginalised communities.
World Vision, the world’s largest Christian church mission agency, has traditionally been closely linked with successive American governments. The former US Ambassador for International Religious Freedoms, Dr Robert Seiple, was World Vision chief for 11 years till 1998 when he was picked by former President, Bill Clinton, to head the office of International Religious Freedoms. Around the period when Seiple was the president of WV, its vice-president from 1993 to 1998 was Andrew S Natsios. He is now the administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID). For more than 40 years, USAID has been the leading government agency providing economic and humanitarian assistance to developing countries.
WV’s focus is children and community development. This is implemented through Area Development Programmes (ADP). But infused with such development works is the spiritual component-Bible classes.
In India, WV projects itself as a “Christian relief and development agency with more than 40 years experience in working with the poorest of the poor in India without respect to race, region, religion, gender or caste.” However, Tehelka has in its possession US-based World Vision Inc.’s financial statement filed before the Internal Revenue Service, wherein, it is classified as a Church ministry. In any case, its mission statement is self-explanatory: “World Vision is an international partnership of Christians whose mission is to follow our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in working with the poor and oppressed, to promote human transformation, seek justice and bear witness to the Good News of the Kingdom of God”. (http://www.vigilonline.com.
This is just what Teresa of Albania and her Missionaries of Charity were/are doing in Kolkata – bearing witness to the Good News of the Kingdom of God! Hindus call it unconscionable, routine and congenital Christian fishing in misery.
Albania, soon after the end of World War II proclaimed itself to be an atheist state. Article 37 of the Albanian Constitution of 1976 stipulated, “The State recognizes no religion, and supports atheistic propaganda in order to implant a scientific materialistic world outlook in people” and the penal code of 1977 imposed prison sentences of three to ten years for “religious propaganda and the production, distribution, or storage of religious literature.” A new decree that in effect targeted Albanians with Christian names stipulated that citizens whose names did not conform to “the political, ideological, or moral standards of the state” were to change them. It was also decreed that towns and villages with religious names must be renamed. Hoxha’s brutal anti-religious campaign succeeded in eradicating formal worship, but some Albanians continued to practice their faith clandestinely, risking severe punishment. Individuals caught with Bibles, icons, or other religious objects faced long prison sentences. Religious weddings were prohibited Parents were afraid to pass on their faith, for fear that their children would tell others. Officials tried to entrap practicing Christians and Muslims during religious fasts, such as Lent and Ramadan, by distributing dairy products and other forbidden foods in school and at work, and then publicly denouncing those who refused the food, and clergy who conducted secret services were incarcerated. Catholic priest Shtjefen Kurti, had been executed for secretly baptising a child in Shkodër in 1972. (Source, Wikipedia)
So, rather than stay back in her own country and fight the atheist government, rather than stay back in Albania like thousands of ordinary Albanian Christian faithful who could not run away, and rather than live the life of a soldier-for-Jesus confronting a godless state, Teresa chose to run away from her country, atheist Albania and arrived in safe, Hindu India to do Christian charity in Kolkata. The writer is tempted to do a Freud on the lady; Teresa of Albania probably tossed a coin to decide between Kerala and West Bengal, to silence the voice of guilt – two states in India governed by godless communists. India never needed Teresa of Albania as much as Albania needed Teresa; ditto with American and British Christian aid.
President Obama’s visit to India is not going as was intended perhaps by the Americans when they first began to plan the visit. Struggling to keep their heads above the turbulent waters of national debt, President Obama has been saddled with the unpleasant task of asking India for help to create jobs in America. Dealing with a crippling 10 per cent unemployment rate, the US President has to put money in the hands of his people to persuade them to spend. The move to ask India to help with creating more jobs in the US comes immediately after the Federal Reserve announced that it would pump $600bn by the end of June, 2011, into the American economy, in a second round of “quantitative easing” amounting to $75bn a month.
To understand just how grim the situation is for the US, American economy grew only at the rate of a poor two per cent in spite of a similar quantitative easing measure of $ 1.75tn which the Federal Reserve had pumped into the economy earlier during this economic downturn. The Indian Prime Minister, himself an economist must understand that now is the time to drive a hard bargain with President Obama not only on the economic front but on several fronts.
The website American Debt.Org,http://www.usdebtclock.org gives frightening details of the life of an ordinary American today. Sourcing all information to US Treasury, US Census, Federal Reserve and Congressional Budget Office, this remarkable website gives the following numbers of the state of the American economy.
US Total Interest
$3266, 717, 126, 439 and ticking
Interest per citizen – $4487
US Total Debt –
$54, 695 923, 602, 630 and ticking
Interest on debt –
$199, 449, 150, 927 and ticking
Total debt per citizen – $176, 101
Total debt per family – $672, 264
Debt per taxpayer – $123, 940
Savings per family – $9484
Estimated US population –
310, 593, 044
US Income-tax Payers –
110, 176, 385
Official unemployed – 14, 674, 229
Actual unemployed – 26, 984, 451
Total personal debt –
$16, 275, 860, 347, 432 and ticking
Mortgage debt –
$13, 868, 151, 502, 734 and ticking
Consumer debt –
$2407, 707, 963, 614 and ticking
Credit card debt –
$812, 211, 985,211
Personal debt per citizen- $52, 402
Bankruptcies 2010 – 1, 576, 844
Foreclosures 2010 – 1, 035, 748
US Families – 81, 362, 382
Food Stamp Recipients –
44, 052, 299
According to sources in the US Department of Defense, the total money spent so far for all branches of the Military including black budgets, equipment, operations, maintenance, personnel, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan stands at a mind-boggling and insane $686, 605, 164, 716 and the clock is ticking every nano second.
Given the pervasive poverty in Europe and the grim scenario with American national debt, American and European taxpayers must ask their governments to explain why they and their countries’ Christian funding agencies are sending to India money which India doesn’t need and which is desperately needed back home.
(Readers are invited to visited the webpage ‘NGO Watch’ on www.vigilonline.com for a complete picture of Christian NGOs and funding agencies)