Justice BK Somasekhar Enquiry Commission into the incidents of attacks on certain places of worship in Dakshina Kannada and other districts of Karnataka in the month of September 2008. Certain Hindus, Praveen Reddy and Others, submitted a questionnaire before the Honorable Commission seeking answers from the Christians for their theological and legal questions pertaining to the Christian faith. This was brought to the attention of SAN recently and has been informed that the Honorable Commission granted extension of time to answer those. Though not the original recipients, Jerry Thomas and G Bibu answered those questions and submitted their answers, both soft copy and hard copy, before the Honorable Commission. They have also submitted a questionnaire for these Hindu friends to answer.
The Lord your God will destroy the nations as you invade their land and you will occupy it and settle there. After the Lord destroys those nations, make sure that you do not follow their religious practices, because that would be fatal. Do not try to find out how they worship their gods, so that you can worship in the same way. Do not worship the Lord your God in the way they worship their gods, for in the worship of their gods they do all the disgusting things that the Lord hates. They even sacrifice their children in the fires on their altars. [Deuteronomy 12-29 to 32]
Even your brother or your son or your daughter or the wife you love or your closest friend may secretly encourage you to worship other gods, gods that you and your ancestors have never worshipped. One of them may encourage you to worship the gods of the people who live near you or the gods of those who live far away. But do not let him persuade you, do not even listen to him. Show him no mercy or pity, and do not protect him. Kill him! Be the first to stone him and then let everyone else stone him too. Stone him to death! He tried to lead you away from the Lord your God, who rescued you from Egypt, where you were slaves. Then all the people of Israel will hear what happened, they will be afraid and no one will ever again do such an evil thing. When you are living in the towns that the Lord your God gives you, you may hear that some worthless men of your nation have misled the people of their town to worship gods that you have never worshipped before. If you hear such a rumor, investigate it thoroughly and if it is true that this evil thing did happen, then kill all the people in that town and all their livestock too. Destroy that town completely. Bring together all the possessions of the people who live there and pile them up in the town square. Then burn the town and everything in it as an offering to the Lord your God. It must be left in ruins for ever and never again be rebuilt. [Deuteronomy 13-6 to 17]
You are the people of the Lord your God. So when you mourn for the dead dont gash yourselves or shave the front of your head, as other people do. [Deuteronomy 14]
Suppose you hear that in one of your towns some man or woman has sinned against the Lord and broken his covenant by worshipping and serving other gods or the sun or moon or the stars, contrary to the Lords command. If you hear such a report, then investigate it thoroughly. If it is true that this evil thing has happened in Israel, then take that person outside the town and stone him to death.[Deuteronomy 17 : 1 to 17]
Kill them, so that they will not make you sin against the Lord by teaching you to do all the disgusting things that they do in the worship of their gods. [Deuteronomy 20-10 to 18]
(A) Are not Hindus vis a vis the above verses on par with the people of Egypt and Israel?
The only verse we observe about the people of Egypt mentioned is the following quote “who rescued you from Egypt, where you were slaves.”
In this we must admit that the observation of the Memorialists is close to accurate. Egyptians were oppressors who enslaved the children of Israel. Many of the Hindus (not all) in Karnataka, Orissa, etc are like those Egyptians in oppressing the Christians and trying to enslave them back to the Hindu fold.
As for the Israel who entered into a covenant relationship with the God of the Bible, we hardly see any similarity between them and Hindus.
(B) Does not Bible mandate killing of people for worshipping other Gods?
We have already answered sufficiently the relevance and scope of the Old Testament verses which the Memorialists quote.
Manusmrithi 4: 81 “For he who explains the sacred law (to a Sudra) or dictates to him a penance will sink together with that (man) into the hell (called) Asamvrita.”
Manusmrithi 4: 99 Let him not recite (the texts) indistinctly, nor in the presence of Sudras; nor let him, if in the latter part of the night he is tired with reciting the Veda, go again to sleep.
(A) Please clarify if the Christians vis a vis the above verses on par with the Sudras?
(B) Clarify, if the above mentioned verses are still applicable in any form?
(C) Clarify, if the above mentioned verses are conducive for a peaceful co-existence of different castes in India?
(D) Clarify, if you agree with the above mentioned verses?
(E) Clarify, if you are willing to recommend editing of the Hindu scriptures to remove any reference to the caste system?
(F) Clarify, if the Hindus who followed these books were following the Santana Dharma or not?
(C)Are not the laws enunciated by Moses upheld by Jesus [Mathews 5-17]?
First let us read the verse as LORD Jesus Christ himself said and then continue to read what Jesus and His disciples said:
Matthew 5: 17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to FULFILL.”
Matthew 3: 15 “15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to FULFILL all righteousness.”
Luke 24: 44 “Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be FULFILLED which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”
Further, for the people like Memorialists to have no doubt, Apostle Paul wrote:
Romans 10:3-4 "For being ignorant of the righteousness that God ascribes (which makes one acceptable to Him in word, thought and deed), and seeking to establish a righteousness (a means of salvation) of their own, they did not obey or submit themselves to God's righteousness. For Christ is THE END (telos) of the Law – the limit at which it ceases to be, for the Law leads up to Him Who is the fulfillment of its types, and in Him the purpose in which it was designed to accomplish is fulfilled. – That is, the purpose of the Law is fulfilled in Him – as the means of righteousness (right relationship to God) for everyone who trusts in and adheres to and relies on Him."
Since Jesus Christ has fulfilled it, the law has ended and the New Testament times have begun.
The Bhagavad Gita 4:1 “This EVERLASTING (system of) devotion I declared to the sun, the sun declared it to MANU, and MANU communicated it to Ikshvâku. Coming thus by steps, it became known to royal sages. But, O terror of (your) foes! that devotion was lost to the world by long (lapse of) time. That same primeval devotion I have declared to you to-day, seeing that you are my devotee and friend, for it is the highest mystery.”
(G) Are not the laws enunciated by Manu upheld by The Bhagavad Gita?
(H) Clarify if the Manu is not upheld by Satapatha Brahmana, Eight Adhyaya, First Brahmana?
(I) Clarify if there are any Hindu scriptures which denounce Manu?
(D) Are these verses conducive for maintaining communal harmony?
Refer to the earlier similar questions by the Memorialists. Those answers would suffice here also.
(E) Are these verses not violating Section 153- A, 295-A of IPC and Article 25 and 51A of the Indian Constitution and violate Human rights?
The same clarification as sought for under point VI. of the questionnaire is again raised in point VII. in connection with the Bible Verses which pronounce condemnation and death upon the worshippers of Idols. Please refer to the preceding points.
It was also required to clarify whether such Bible Verses are not violative of the Human Rights. To this we make the following clarification:
The present application of these Bible Verses do not go beyond deriving the doctrine of Monotheism and of worshipping the one and only true God in spirit and in truth. The death penalty in violation of these doctrines is not required to be enforced by the church, as is clear from several passages in the New Testament. Hence the question of violating Human Rights does not arise.
Such derivation of doctrines without applying the literal history behind the text is not unique to the Bible alone, but is characteristic of almost all religious books. Take the Geetha for instance, which largely consist in Krishna counseling Arjuna to fight and kill his kith and kin. The Hindus do not apply the context literally in their present application of, and adherence to the Geetha, but only derive the principle of performing one's duty (Karma), heedless of its outcome. We hope that the Bible also has the right to give out principles for our present application, without enforcing everything that we find in it literally and absolutely.
Hence the folly of demanding the deletion of passages out of the Bible is appalling, and the religious bias behind such demands is unabashedly glaring.
Under the same point in the questionnaire, the clarification was once again sought, whether these Bible Verses do not go against the Scientific and the secular temper of the Indian Constitution. Please refer to the preceding points for the answer.
(F) What is the position of Christian Church vis- -vis Hindus who are worshippers of Gods other than Biblical Gods?
We have already clarified the position of the Biblical Church in the context of other similar verses. Those clarifications apply here also.
(G) Whether you, in personal capacity, in capacity of a religious figure and on behalf of your church, are ready to declare that these verses deserve to be deleted and not relevant to the present Indian scenario and that Hindus who are idol worshipers and worship non Biblical Gods do not follow a heinous practice have a right to do so, right to live, worship idols and do not deserve to be killed for the mere act of worshipping idols and worshipping non Biblical Gods?
Similar question has been answered in a similar context earlier. Those answers suffice here too.
(H) Do not these verses show that Bible is against scientific temper and secularism enshrined in our Constitution?
This also has been answered in the preceding points.
(I) Clarify whether Bible enjoins the Christians to live harmoniously with followers of other religions?
As far as the Christians are concerned, the Holy Bible certainly enjoins them to live harmoniously with not only the followers of other religions but even with those who hate them.
Luke 6: 27-36 “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.”
We note here that while many of the other religions preach some version of the golden rule of ethics, consistently or inconsistently, Christianity not only teaches the golden rule but it also exceeds the golden rule in its highest standard of ethics.
Mahabharata 5:1517– This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.
Samyutta Nikaya v. 353: (Buddhism) "…a state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that upon another?"
Acarangasutra 5.101-2 (Jainism) "Therefore, neither does he [a sage] cause violence to others nor does he make others do so."
Continue reading the next Section VIII: Answers to the Questions of Hindus.