INDIA, February 9, 2018 (Swarajyamag by M. Kishwar and S. Kishwar): In recent years, the issue of conversions from Hinduism and ghar wapsi (reconversion to Hinduism) has evoked a great deal of controversy. Hindu groups allege that Christian missionaries use force, fraud and all kinds of illicit means in order to "harvest souls" for Christianity. Therefore, they seek a ban on conversions. In their defence, Christian missionaries say that they have never used unfair means and that their proselytization activities are merely an exercise of religious freedom, which is guaranteed under the Constitution of India. While on a recent visit to villages in Rohtas district in Bihar, during the course of my field research into the living conditions of ghumantoo jatis (itinerant communities) like the Nats, I got revealing glimpses of the methods being used by Christian missionaries to win converts. People of the Nat community today constitute among the poorest of the poor in India. Despite their precarious existence, most Nat parents today desire to see their children get good education so that they are able to land decent jobs. And this is exactly where some Christian missions have sensed a lucrative market for proselytization.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that even the Colorado Springs, US-based evangelist movement, the Joshua Project, lists the Nat community and its various sub-groups in its database of nearly 10,000 "unreached peoples" globally. About 100 children of Bishrampur Nat Tola village go to GEMS (Gospel Echoing Missionary Society), which also has a hostel with amenities like free food, clothing and toiletry. One's first spontaneous impression could well be to feel a sense of gratitude towards Christian missionaries for having come to the rescue of these vulnerable communities. But, perchance, we heard from the children and parents of Bishrampur Nat Tola the price they had to pay for these free tuitions and meals. For instance, Shankar Kumar, a parent, told us that the missionaries indulged in unethical pressure tactics, including violence on children, to force them to convert to Christianity. Many children were summarily expelled from GEMS because they refused to give up their ancestral faith. Ranjan Kumar, a student of Class VII, told us that he was beaten brutally with a stick because the priests got to know that he had accompanied his parents to the temple of Goddess Mandeshwari.
Much more of this report on the Joshua Project's use of unethical means at "source" above.