image caption: Gurmukh Singh

Christian Conversion Tactics in Panjab

- The problem is not the good work done by charities inspired by religious teachings.

It is important to understand the Sikhi viewpoint. The real problem is not conversions to Christianity or to any other religion through a learning (sikh-ing?) process about religious ideologies. The real problem is the main Christian objective to convert others to own faith. Most Christian missionary zeal and philanthropic work, education, medical services etc and other strategies are aimed at that singular objective. That is bound to invite a reaction from the guardians of other faiths.

Sikhs will certainly oppose such tactics. Jathedar Akal Takht Sahib expressed concern that Christians were using wrongful means to convert people to Christianity. That has been a matter of concern in the UK and other diaspora countries also. In Punjab, the symbols of Sikhism are used to confuse rural Sikhs, Sabu Mathai Kathilita wrote a whole book with strategy for converting Sikhs. He proposed using terms such as Satsangs, Langars, Jesus Gurdwara, name of Satnam Waheguru for God and Satguru for Jesus. (Dilpreet Kaur quoted by Global Sikh Council.)

The rise of Christianity in Panjab has been a challenge for Sikh institutions and parcharaks for decades. On 18 November, 2010, S. Ravinder Singh of Khalsa Aid (Ravi) wrote on a forum, Gurmat Learning Zone (GLZ): The Christian Missionaries are misrepresenting Gurbani and using this to convert the rural Sikh population of Punjab. Almost 10 years later, on 18 January 2020, S Tarlochan Singh, Ex-MP and Indian Minorities Commissioner, reminded us again on GLZ that Churches are opening almost everywhere they have even opened up in villages. Gurbani scholar, S Rawel Singh wrote on 20 January 2020: The Christian missionaries consider poverty a gift of God for it is there that they focus to proselytise.

Over 20 years ago, late Sardar Gurbachan Singh Sidhu, main founder of The Sikh Missionary Society UK, raised the same concern about the conversion activities of Christian missionaries in the UK: at university campuses and from door to door, targeting the vulnerable and the gullible youngish Sikh youth. He wrote his first comparative study, Sikh Religion and Christianity and invited me to revise and write the Foreword. One reason for the study was the distortion of Sikh ideology by Christian preachers. According to S Gurbachan Singh, Christian missionaries make highly misleading statements about the contents of Sri Guru Granth Sahib and Sikh tradition.

In 2010, Ravinder Singh spoke of the highly misleading Christian literature in Gurmukhi, which was being widely distributed. I joined him on a Sikh TV show and S Gurbachan Singh Sidhu called in to give his own views. Based on his tour of Panjab villages, Ravinder Singh revealed that the Christian Missionaries were misrepresenting Gurbani and using this to convert the rural Sikh population of Punjab. He expressed grave concern at the lack of action by the Sikh institutions ( e.g. SGPC ) who were set up to counter such propaganda and to promote the egalitarian ideology of Guru Nanak Sahib based on Naam. Kirat and Wand-shakna.

Jathedar Akal Takht Sahib should be more direct about the bipran practices amongst the Sikhs. For a start we should accept that the high-low caste system is anti-Gurmat. Time is running out and this is not the first wake-up call for Sikh institutions and parcharaks.

Gurmukh Singh OBE

Principal Civil Servant Retd.