Replies submitted by Shri R. W. Scott, Secretary, National Christian Council
To - The Secretary, Christian Missionaries Enquiry Committee, Secretariat Building, Nagpur-1.
In answer to the questionnaire I wish to submit the following. May I make one or two general comments before doing so. First, it seems to me that the tone, as well as the character, of some questions reflects the attitude that the Christian position is weak and open to suspicion in certain fundamental respects. Such are questions 10 and 77. In an impartial investigation it would seem to be necessary to give those against whom allegations have been made an opportunity of presenting their case without having been judged in advance. Secondly, I as a missionary, who has spent half his life happily in India, have rejoiced to see our Nation�s development away from religious and communal tension towards a harmony and understanding of each other�s point of view in vital matters of the mind and spirit. But I must confess to the conclusion that the questionnaire is weighed against the Christian. whether Indian or foreign. There may be some extreme cases in view when certain questions were framed but these can hardly be considered normative.
The purpose of the enquiry is also to seek the truth concerning allegations by the �missionaries� that �they are being harassed b non-Christian people and local officials.� The questionnaire seems to give no place for these allegations whether true or false.
In answer to certain questions may I suggest the following:
10. Conversion can only result from religious conviction and appeals to people of all Conditions of life. It happens in the case of Christian people themselves when they cease being nominal Christians to become vitally aware of spiritual reality and the meaning of their faith through a spiritual rebirth. Conversion is not primarily a social or cultural phenomenon but a spiritual and moral event. It has many consequences. I know of many people who have experiences such a conversion.
23. Missionaries of non-Commonwealth countries before entering India are required to take the following pledge:
�I hereby further undertake to give all due obedience and respect to the lawfully constituted Government in whatever part of India I may be and while undertaking to abstain from participation in political affairs, it is my desire and purpose that my influence, in so far as it may be properly exerted in such matters, be exerted in loyal co-operation with the Government.�
If it is meant that missionaries and pracharaks make references to the Governments of India or of foreign lands in their sermons and addresses the answer is I know of none.
If it is meant in private conversation, there are of course discussions in which missionaries also enter. Speaking from a fairly broad experience I say that the references to the Government of India are more often than not far more favourable in such conversations than are references to foreign governments.
It surely is not the purpose to prohibit free discussion and exchange of opinion which is an essential part of a healthy democracy.
As for my own part I have many times spoken in high approval of the progress of India since 1947 and likewise as an American citizen I have many rimes spoken in disapproval of American foreign policy but I am always concerned to see that there is a free and factual interchange of opinion which increase international understanding and goodwill.
17. In answer to the question, another may be asked. What restriction is there upon Christians as citizens of India taking part in political activity? I should think that this is a very highly desirable end so long as that activity is directed towards the welfare of the Nation.
29. I know of no foreign missionaries who are in any way taking part in activities other than religious and social.
47. Many missionaries have the highest educational qualifications although some are not so well qualified. There can be no generalization about education, �station in life�, or income but it is certainly true that a great number of missionaries would have considerably larger income were they to give up this work to engage in work in their native lands.
48. Some of the Churches in India send selected Indian nationals abroad for training but it is usually for such training as cannot yet be provided in India. These are selected for their general ability, usefulness in the Church and willingness to render a sacrificial service on their return for the welfare of their own people.
49. Many Indian leaders have not only equal status and authority with foreign missionaries but are heads of institutions and leaders in the Churches under whom the missionaries serve. This is an end which is being urged increasingly among foreign missionaries and it has been achieved with highly satisfactory results.
50. Almost all of the larger established missions have turned over their authority and control to Church organizations in India. Some of the more recent missions which do have established Churches have not yet done 80.
63. There is a plan by which missions do not encroach on one another�s areas of work. This is to avoid duplication. Some few smaller missions do not accept these arrangements called comity and do not observe them.
94. A distinction must be made in speaking of culture as it is a very general term. There are national, cultural characteristics in India which distinguish the Indian People from other nations and are native to the people but there are also cultural characteristics of religious groups and communities. The two can hardly be said to be identical. When culture arises from religious faith it should not be imposed on others who do not have that faith. A change of religion does not necessarily imply a change of certain cultural characteristics.
99. If the Committee wishes me to give further evidence orally I would be quite ready to appear.
I hope that this consideration will be of some help to the Committee.
Yours very sincerely,
R. W. SCOTT,
Secretary, National Christian Council.