Everybody was talking about Tehelka. The weekly newspaper launched its first issue while I was in India, and thereafter I rarely started an interview without being asked whether I had seen it. The reason? The cover story was an 11-page muckrake titled "George Bush Has a Big Conversion Agenda for India."
The "exclusive and exhaustive Tehelka investigation into a disturbing phenomenon" focuses on plans for Christian evangelism, especially the AD2000 attempt to target unreached people groups. It hardly took exhaustive investigation to learn that Christians around the world are concerned about evangelizing India. What was novel in Tehelka's findings was its belief that this was part of George Bush's plan to impose an American world order. "Conversions in India, as they are happening today, are … about a sinister and subversive strategy, hatched in the U.S., backed by the Bush administration over the years."
In India, such tales gain traction for good reason. "The Hindu propaganda that the Indian church is American-funded is true," says an Indian social scientist. An evangelist, Lalchuangliana, told me, "Our help comes not from the Lord, but from Colorado Springs." The Indian church is small and poor, American Christians have money, and some Indian Christians have become expert at bringing the two together. There is nothing inherently wrong with this: needs are great. Problems, however, do arise. Here are some ways for American Christians to help:
Watch those websites.
Information posted on American websites gets read in India, often without any sense of context. Inflated claims about evangelistic success arouse fear and astonishment in India. (Several Indian leaders told me that if all the claims about evangelism over the ...1