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Not too long ago we had a question here that raised the issues of bribery, cultural "destruction," and use of harsh language against nonbelievers during evangelization efforts in developing countries. There is actually a Wikipedia article on Rice Christians. It offers a quote from Mahatma Gandhi's autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth:

Only Christianity was at that time an exception. I developed a sort of dislike for it. And for a reason. In those days Christian missionaries used to stand in a corner near the high school and hold forth, pouring abuse on Hindus and their gods. I could not endure this. I must have stood there to hear them once only, but that was enough to dissuade me from repeating the experiment. About the same time, I heard of a well known Hindu having been converted to Christianity. It was the talk of the town that, when he was baptized, he had to eat beef and drink liquor, that he also had to change his clothes, and that thenceforth he began to go about in European costume including a hat. These things got on my nerves. Surely, thought I, a religion that compelled one to eat beef, drink liquor, and change one's own clothes did not deserve the name. I also heard that the new convert had already begun abusing the religion of his ancestors, their customs and their country. All these things created in me a dislike for Christianity.

From this quote, we see that issues of cultural extinction, harsh language, and use of bribery in evangelization is an ongoing problem, from Gandhi's 100 year old testimony to the prior question of last week.

My question is to what extent have evangelism-training leaders (or great evangelists) already noted these problems, and what words or scriptural references (or church-fathers-quotes) have they given as caution?

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    bible.org/node/15891
    – Narnian
    Jul 9, 2013 at 11:58
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    Anecodatally from my time living with IMB missionaries in Nepal and Kazakhstan, they are very, very aware of Rice Christianity, and hate it. Additionally, if my missiology courses are representative, we talk a lot about separating Western Culture from Christ - focusing on house church instead of buildings, for examples, and explicitly rejecting the need for Westernization Jul 9, 2013 at 14:11
  • It's also why Reston Bible Church and other good churches I know prefer to support individual indigineous pastors, sometimes even above established "missions" organizations. Jul 9, 2013 at 14:12
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    Isn't "Rice Christianity" supposed to refer to people who pretend to be interested in the Gospel, but really just want material hand-outs (for example food, such as rice) from the missionaries? Beyond that - where did they get this idea that being a Christian requires that one eat beef or wear a certain type of clothing? And as for drinking booze as proof of conversion, I wonder how that one would sit with the Methodists? Jul 10, 2013 at 13:38
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    Similar to as Frank Norman mentioned, what does that Gandhi quote have to do with rice Christianity? Rice Christianity is bad faith on the part of the converted (converted rice, ha), whereas what you're concerned about is bad practice on the part of the converters: cultural trampling from insensitive evangelization.
    – Chelonian
    Jul 10, 2013 at 17:43

4 Answers 4

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Rice Christians. Maybe Gandhi should have said Beef Christians.
I mean, I cried too when Pi killed the fish. [slipped-out]

Unfortunately or fortunately the Word of God is book of human-action,
unlike a calculus math book. Searching for facs/truth...

About "Rice Christians",
1) Christ Jesus healed many people,
which is recorded on the gospels of the new testament.
2) Christ Jesus helped anyone, Matthew 11:28,
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
3) Not all who were helped said thanks, Luke 17:17
4) Nor all who were helped became Disciples, only about 120 left in Acts 1:15
Basically He came to give hoping the ones he helped would repent, Romans 2:4

About Culture Shock, the problem is Christ Jesus said in Matthew 28:19,
"... make Disciples of all nations". Which can cause kaos like you said.
So, Disciples of Christ Jesus make disciples everywhere like in Asia
and give [rest] to anyone [who is weary]. So I think.

About [pouring abuse on Hindus], well this about what someone/somebody did or say.
However, Romans 2:1-4 helps to point out that passing judgment comes around.

If I ever find a Disciple of Christ Jesus,
I would ask for a bowl of rice or two also :)
Thanks for reading.

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The Bible is about preparing ourselves for the life after this corrupted life, but at the same time also about making this life as good and easy as possible for us and others.

Charity/helping is not bribery. It was a direct attack against the concepts of dharma, karma, and Hindu caste system which forced the masses to accept their utter misery as a result of their past life/doings, and so they should accept and live in their atrocious circumstances forever. Today because of the fear of backlash from the Backward/Dalit caste parties/organizations, or fear of mass conversions, even Gandhi's followers do not speak of dharma, karma, and Hindu caste system, and instead are busy aping charity/education/empowerment.

In fact the impact of Christianity/missionaries is such that all other religions have abandoned much of their original concepts and are busy aping Christian concepts, or at least trying to align with it.

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What cautionary advice have evangelists given that address Gandhi's concern about "Rice Christians"?

To what extent have evangelism-training leaders (or great evangelists) already noted these problems, and what words or scriptural references (or church-fathers-quotes) have they given as caution?

The expression rice Christian is a derogatory slur used to describe someone who has formally converted to Christianity for material benefits rather than for religious reasons. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as "a convert to Christianity who accepts baptism not on the basis of personal conviction but out of a desire for food, medical services, or other benefits".

Similarly, in India, the term rice bag or rice bag convert is used as a derogatory slur targeting Christians, alleging that the target has converted to Christianity for a bag of rice. The term is often used by right-wing Hindutva groups in India.

Concerns have been expressed both by Christian missionaries and by those opposed to Christian missions that people in these situations are only nominally converting to Christianity in order to receive charity or material advancements. - Rice Christian

Proselytization is uncommon in Indian religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, especially because they are pluralistic religions. Instead of the choice of religion, justice is viewed as being determined by concepts such as karma and rebirth. Thus, proselytism is seen as unhelpful towards the pursuit of sādhanā (spiritual practice) and samskaras (intrinsic qualities). Most see it this way, until when certain Christian missionaries makes many converts.

Obviously Mahatma Gandhi although a pacifist, he was clearly not open to having Christian missionaries preach the Gospel in India.

Missionary activities in the Indian subcontinent posses a few unique problems for Christian missionaries of all denominations across the board.

Gandhi most certainly saw the proselytization of his fellow countrymen by those Christian missionaries who ridiculed the the native East Indian culture. New converts would in turn actually manipulative the attitudes and practices of non-converts to hate and show ridicule on those who follow the lifestyle of their ancestors. For example, Gandhi mentions beef in his dislike of missionaries forcing converts to eat beef, whereas 44% of all Hindus are vegetarian!

Missionaries in India must respect the culture in which they find themselves. One will attract more flies with honey than vinegar.

Here are a few examples of what some missionaries have done in the past in the past:

  • Dress the best way to get integrated into the local life of those in the region one is evangelizing.

For example the French missionaries to Tibet, Fr. Évariste Régis Huc and his companion Fr. Joseph Gabet were the first Europeans who had reached Lhasa since Thomas Manning in 1812 and chose to the dress worn by ordinary Lamas of Tibet as it was recognized as a religious costume worn by Buddhist monks: a long yellow robe fastened by a red girdle. See his book: Souvenirs d'un Voyage dans la Tartarie, le Thibet, et la Chine pendant les Années 1844, 1845, et 1846.

  • Preach the Gospel, not argue the Gospel with unbelievers.

Fr Huc makes the point not to laugh at Pagan beliefs and not to ridicule their customs even internally, but to always respect the person who are engaged in conversation. Explain and preach the Gospel of Christ, in a sincere and humble manner. Remember what Jesus said in the Gospel: And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mark 16:15)

Jesus never said: Go and argue the Gospel.

Example will often win over preaching.

Other problems exist in India. Beginning in the 1860s and 1870s, in separate regions of India, Protestants witnessed explosive growth through group conversions among the “depressed classes.” Forced to revise their understanding of conversion as an individual commitment made by one person at a time, Christians discovered that their future success lay in the conversion of the outcastes and tribal groups. By 1933, an estimated one-half of the Roman Catholics in India were descendants of mass-movement converts and at least 80 percent of the Protestant converts had also come via this route. Just as in the Early Church, the lower cast members were converted to Christianity in greater numbers than others.

Christian missionaries in India should:

  • Be able to speak and understand the language(s) of the targeted missionary region(s).

  • Be respectful of the culture they are living in, never ridiculing their beliefs or traditions.

  • Adopt their lifestyle as best as possible according to the ability of the one living in their region. If most are vegetarian, perhaps it would be good to adopt this custom as a sign of common respect with the local population. St. Francis Xavier practiced this his whole life while in the missionary journeys in India and Japan. Francis Xavier never made made a convert of a single high-caste Brahmin.

  • Proselytization is to be done without manipulative attitudes and practices that exploit people's needs, weaknesses or lack of education especially in situations of distress, and fail to respect their freedom and human dignity.

  • Missionaries should not use extending explicit or implicit offers of education, health care or material inducements or using financial resources with the intent of making converts. Conversions should not be coerced by Christian preachers! Conversion should be freely accepted by individuals.

  • Be cautious of the Anti-conversion laws and anti-conversion legislations of India.

In India, anti-conversion laws were instituted in the 1930s under the British Rule for some Hindu princely states. The aim was to prevent Christianisation and "to preserve Hindu religious identity in the face of British missionaries." Raigarh State Conversion Act of 1936 was enforced by the Raigarh Chief, Chakradhar Singh to protect lower castes and tribes of Hindu community. The Patna Freedom of Religion Act of 1942, the Sarguja State Apostasy Act 1945, and the Udaipur State Anti-Conversion Act of 1946 were subsequently introduced.

After Indian independence, as the Indian constitution was prepared, the Constituent Assembly's Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights proposed a clause against conversion by "coercion or undue influence" but was ultimately rejected. The Indian Conversion (Regulation and Registration) Bill was put up in 1954, which aimed to administer the "licensing of missionaries and the registration of conversion with government officials". The bill was turned down in the lower house of parliament. Other bills to check Hindus converting to other religions were introduced in 1954 and 1967, but were rejected. In 1977, the Supreme Court of India upheld (through a challenge, Rev. Stanislaus v. State of Madhya Pradesh and Orissa) that the anti-conversion regulation of Madhya Pradesh and Odisha (then Orissa) as being constitutional. In 2015, the Ministry of Law and Justice announced that the federal government could not legislate anti-conversion laws and that they were under the purview of state legislatures.

There is no federal law regulating religious conversions. Arunachal Pradesh had formulated the Freedom of Religion Act, 1978, but was never enacted. Rajasthan also approved its bills in 2006 and 2008, but did not receive approval from the Governor and the President of India both times. Tamil Nadu passed its bill in 2002, but was revoked after public protests. As of 2023, Ten states have authorised their own laws. The states follow the similar principles of anti-religious conversion commonly described as conversion due to force or inducement or by fraudulent means. Religious conversions are not totally prohibited and can be done by authorisation from the district magistrates following legal procedures.

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Rice Christians and Modern Racism

I come from that third world poor country, which ranks among the top starving nations. From what I have read from early Missionary books, and from experience, I can testify that Europeans brought humanity to India, and the whole nation owe its life to the Christians. They introduced not just schools, but orphanages, hospitals, banned child sex slavery, trafficking, human sacrifices, sati (widow burning on husband's cremation) and things that even Indian Hindus have long forgotten.

First, it has to be a lie that a missionary would stand on the street, doing nothing but cursing the pagan religion. All of that description is nothing but exaggeration and lie. Consider the name of that book itself: My Experiment with Truth. Gandhi, being a relativist Hindu, did not believe in truth. It is true that new converts would abuse and curse their religion and ancestors, culture after being enlightened. You can confirm this from modern testimonies from untouchables. Untouchables are from the worst or the lowest class of society, and most conversions happen from this class, and after converting, these people are outcasted from their own society, from where you get the word paraya. The high caste Hindu would have greater social loss from being paraya. The community cuts off all social ties with them, food, water, etc. Thus, if a Hindu convert with the risk of going lower from the lowest class, and sometimes risking his life, the accusation of conversion of bribe like a handful of rice are proven ridiculous.

There are many states where the tribal or low caste people lose their reservation quotas after conversion, these laws are made to prevent conversions. If the Christians could bribe the poor Hindus, especially with a handful of rice, 80% Hindus would've been Christians. The "rice bowl Christians" is a hateful trope of the jealous people who justify their delusion by blaming the converts of falling in bribes, or accusing Christians of doing "forced conversions". Just a few months back the Hindus waged persecution on a lower caste Christian tribal community in North East Indian state Manipur, resulting in many church burnings, humans burning, rapes and parading women naked in presence of police. This present riots and persecution on minorities are under the revival of Hindu culture by Modi since 2014 which lead India slipping from the world persecution rank of 29 to top 10 in recent years. The non-Hindu low caste community in certain regions, under the Marxist political power, openly curse their religion. They are not persecuted because of their political aggression and social power.

The South Indian state's chief minister's son, Udhayanidhi Stalin, recently cursed Hindu Brahmin or Sanatana religion of casteism, calling it a virus which needs to be eradicated. After the controversy, he doubled down on his statement, saying he will repeat it, he said,

"Few things cannot be opposed, that should be abolished only. We can't oppose Dengue, Mosquitoes, Malaria, or Corona, we have to eradicate this. That's how we have to eradicate Sanatana. Rather opposing Sanatana it should be eradicated”.

Gandhi must be referring to the ritual communion wine with liquor, and exaggerating that the Christians teach sins to the converts. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have read from the Early Baptist Missions books, which described how miserable lepers and blind used to walk hundreds of miles for pilgrims, and some of them did nothing but curse their gods for not healing them; or imagine the treatment any woman was given her whole life in such a culture. It would be unnatural if a convert from such culture not curse his former ancestors, culture, nation. Such miserable sick beggars were treated with charity only by the Christians; the behaviour and truth of the Christians and non-Christians have always been black and white. There are stories of how converts used to abuse their former gods for being impotent, as they had tested and verified the truth of their idol gods. A quote about holy river Ganga and funeral, from A History of the English Baptist Missions to India by Baron Stow, 1835, pp 56-57.
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The ever-growing global persecution of minorities, revival of demonic darkness, terrorism is caused by the Colonies as the nations have been abandoned back in their slavery of sin. In my analysis, Gandhi can be called the father of political leftism, which weaponises fake victimhood. The modern leftist social racism against the unprivileged seen in the Western nations is a result of the political shift started after the world war. India and all abandoned colonies of Britain have been regressing back to their old state, only because of the social racism against these poor nations. Global Mission has also limited to the native churches, as the Western mission activity are seen as racism.

This socio-political shift can now be seen as the destruction of Western Churches themselves, as they unite with other religions to show postmodern virtue, but also practice demographical change for the same. The modern Christians glorify the bygone genocidal ancient religions and customs for their unique counter-culture and exotic anthropological value. Although the details mentioned here maybe unnecessary, but they are important to share the native and objective perspective, and expose the deliberate ignorance, lies and racism in the modern culture. I recommend some books on Missiology under postmodernism. As for a Bible verse, Matt 11:6 "blessed is the one who is not offended by me".

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