Open Doors Report

Questions asked by DIPF

Source of the issue 

The launch of a report by the organisation Open Doors on the persecution of Christians worldwide in parliament on 17 January 2019 is of some concern to DIPF. The launched report ranks India as being among the top 10 of countries where persecution of Christians rages. India has been steadily moving up in the previous editions of the Open Doors’ reports, but this is the first time it has assumed 10th place, pushing out Syria! We have addressed our concerns to members of both parties including Ministers such as the Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, who described the report as part of the “fantastic work” Open Doors was doing. The Open Doors report has been treated by parliamentarians as presenting a factual account of the countries it covers, including India, and not as the propaganda exercise which it demonstrably is. We argue that the report and its endorsement by a cross section of parliamentarians amounts to the tying of British foreign policy to the agenda of missionary organisations intent on promoting their proselytising activities which undermines the traditional culture of countries such as India.

Actions DIPF has taken so far 

Please follow the following links to read DIPF’s representations in detail: 

Actions DIPF recommends Dharmic community organisations and leaders take 

Write to ALL the political parties and your local MPs stating clearly your organisation’s and your members’ very serious concerns. Request both written assurances and meetings to ensure the Dharmic community be safeguarded and Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) will NOT initiate or support or fund any policies that impacts negatively on Bharat or the Dharmic communities anywhere. Ask what funds and support HMG has provided in the last 20 years and what it plans to use in the current Parliament in Bharat, Nepal and other non-Christian countries. Share this communication widely.

Actions DIPF recommends to Dharmic community Members 

Write to your local MPs with your concerns. Request both written assurances and meetings to ensure the Dharmic community be safeguarded and Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) will NOT initiate or support or fund any policies that impact negatively on Bharat or the Dharmic communities anywhere. Ask what funds and support HMG provides in Bharat, Nepal and other non-Christian countries. Share this communication widely.

Rt Hon. Jeremy Hunt MP

Rt Hon. Jeremy Hunt MP

Sec. of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs, House of Commons, South West Surrey Constituency

Email from DIPF

12/02/19

Re – Open Doors Report

Namaste Dear The Rt Hon. Jeremy Hunt MP

The Dharmic Ideas & Policy Foundation (DIPF) was established in February 2015 with a launch at the Palace of Westminster to give Britain’s Dharmic Community organisations (i.e. of Indian traditions) and grassroots a steer on key policy matters that impact on them and provide policymakers with a steer on matters that concern the Dharmic communities. We write to you in order to raise an issue that causes some concern.

An event in parliament in January 2019 is the catalyst for our concerns, while its background and consequences are also worrying. The event in question is the launch of a report by the organisation Open Doors on the persecution of Christians worldwide. The launched report ranks India as being among the top 10 of countries where persecution of Christians rages. India has been steadily moving up in the previous editions of the Open Doors’ reports, but this is the first time it has assumed 10th place, pushing out Syria!

Without needing to read the report, it may be inferred that this ranking smacks of manipulation. India has a deep tradition of pluralism where Christian padres explicitly campaign for the political party of their choice and, as often happens nowadays, against the current ruling BJP government. We in the UK would consider such acts criminal under applicable legislation. Allegations of persecution against Christians in India have subsequently proven groundless, as often pointed out by Indian Christians themselves.

Reading the methodology employed by Open Doors substantiates grounds for suspicion. Underwriting its own unreliability, the section explaining the methodology of the report says that “It is not always clear if and to what extent pressure felt by Christians, or even violence against them, is directly related to them being Christian. Sometimes, just living in a chaotic world creates substantial amounts of suffering for Christians and others alike.” This is a recipe for arbitrariness, making it evident that the ranking of any country, let alone India, must be based on factors other than actual persecution suffered by Christians, even assuming that that is measurable in any reliable way.

Open Doors also claims that the report is “independently audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom (IIRF)”. However, like Open Doors, IIRF is an evangelical organisation promoting and supporting missionary activity and proselytism. A glance at the IIRF’s website makes it clear that they cannot be neutral while being members of the World Evangelical Alliance.

It is not that reports such as the one produced by Open Doors is anything unusual. We have become used to how those who wish us to convert away from the traditions of our ancestors, and therefore have a vested interest in declaiming against those traditions, continue to produce such tracts to press on with the idea that a basically pluralistic culture is in fact its opposite. That has been the practice of Christians of the last five centuries if not more. We know that proselytism is being practiced against followers of the Indian traditions here in the UK.

We know too that the UK caste legislation was framed by pressure from such organisations and their affiliates. It has not gone unnoticed that the leading case of Tirkey, which there are good grounds to suggest was massaged into a case of caste discrimination, involved a Christian claimant. That same case has been promoted by your government, pursuant to its caste consultation, as the basis of the UK’s protection for claimants of caste discrimination. This happened despite the fact that Tory candidates gained electoral support during GE2017 for their commitment to opposing both the legislative and case law options regarding caste.

Our immediate concern is that over 100 parliamentarians reportedly attended or were represented at the Open Doors report’s launch where you as the Foreign Secretary, announced, on the report’s basis, a global review on the persecution of Christians. This indicates that you and other current (Penny Mordaunt) and former ministers (Theresa Villiers) as well as other leading members of the Conservative party took the report as a factual account of the countries it covers, including India, and not as the propaganda exercise which it demonstrably is.

The press, together with fellow Christian organisations, duly reported the ‘findings’ of the report as conveying facts but suppressed Open Doors’ evangelical and missionary credentials and did not consider it fit to report that the person chosen by you to lead the review, Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro, also has a missionary background. To top it all Open Doors now describes the anticipated review as being “independent”.

You ought to be aware that Open doors has in the past described the practice of yoga as Satanic. However consistent that may be with Christian doctrines, it is indicative of the basis upon which Open Doors regards India’s traditions, essentially as false religions that are undeserving of a future. Open Doors’ UK and Ireland budget amounts to greater than £12 million. It has in the past funded the Evangelical Fellowship of India to conduct public interest litigation against legislative controls on proselytism in India, thus interfering in the Indian legal system and its justified curbs on freewheeling missionary activity.

It isn’t the first time that Christian evangelical and proselytism agenda have determined Britain’s foreign policy. The Open Doors’ manoeuvring and its endorsement by Her Majesty’s Ministers and a significant segment of parliamentarians, including you and others from your own party, is nevertheless of serious concern to us. It indicates that currently, and in the Britain of the future, those of a particular hostile faith agenda will be able to wield greater influence to have their interests secured, even though they happen to be inimical to the continuance of the ancestral traditions and practices of some others of us.

I wish to therefore request of you the following:

  1. How you as the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs can justify endorsing the Open Doors report and justify announcing a review on its strength given that the tendentious report has no more than propagandistic value.
  2. How the support given to Open Doors by HMG and by Conservative parliamentarians can be squared with their proclaimed friendship with India not least given that Open doors has a history of promoting proselytism and has a record of interfering in that country’s internal legal and religious affairs.
  3. How you and your government can justify tying British foreign policy to evangelical and missionary interests of the kind Open doors represents and how you and HMG can justify the expenditure that would be involved in any funding through public expense of the review announced by you.
  4. Clarification as to what funds will be expended for the review announced by you and what funds have either committed by HMG, or have in the past been given, to Open doors.
  5. What the Conservative Party’s policy is on the continuing support by HMG in kind and monetarily of evangelical and missionary organisations such as Open Doors, and many others, which continue to promote aims that are inimical to the friendship between India and the UK and between their peoples.

We look forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely

Dr. Gautam Sen, Co-Director

Dr. Prakash Shah, Co-Director

Dharmic Ideas & Policy Foundation

Chairman: Prof. Nath Puri | Co-Director: Dr. Gautam Sen | Co-Director: Dr. Prakash Shah | Communications: Mukesh Naker
143 Cavendish Rd, Leicester. LE2 7PJ United Kingdom E: director@dipf.org.uk W: www.dipf.org.uk

Council Members
Dr. Come Carpentier | Dr. Jakob de Roover | Dr Jasdev Rai | Dr. Koenraad Elst | Dr. Manish Pandit | Abhinav Agrawal
Rajiv Varma | Dr. Rakesh Sinha | Mr. Rohit Patel | Prof. S. N. Balagangadhara | Sandeep Balakrishnan | Smita Barooah | Swami Vigyananand | Dr. Yvette Rosser

Rt Hon. Emily Thornberry MP

Rt Hon. Emily Thornberry MP

House of Commons, Islington South & Finsbury Constituency

Email from DIPF

12/02/19

Re – Re Open Doors Report

Namaste Dear The Rt Hon. Emily Thornberry MP

The Dharmic Ideas & Policy Foundation (DIPF) was established in February 2015 with a launch at the Palace of Westminster to give Britain’s Dharmic communities (i.e. those following Indian traditions) and grassroots a steer on key policy matters that impact on them and provide policymakers with a steer on matters that concern the Dharmic communities. As you are the Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, an MP with long experience of serving constituencies with a large proportion of Dharmic communities, and a Labour Friend of India, we wish to raise the following issue of some concern to us.

An event in parliament on 17 January 2019 is the catalyst for our concerns, while its background and consequences are also worrying. The event in question is the launch of a report by the organisation Open Doors on the persecution of Christians worldwide. The launched report ranks India as being among the top 10 of countries where persecution of Christians rages. India has been steadily moving up in the previous editions of the Open Doors’ reports, but this is the first time it has assumed 10th place pushing out Syria!

This ranking smacks of manipulation. You may be aware of India’s tradition of pluralism where Christian padres explicitly campaign for the political party of their choice and, as often happens nowadays, against the current ruling BJP government, in such a way that we in the UK would consider criminal under applicable legislation. Allegations of persecution against Christians in India have subsequently proven groundless, as often pointed out by Christians themselves.

If you did not already have grounds for suspicion, then reading the methodology employed by Open Doors would ignite it. Underwriting its own unreliability, the section explaining the methodology of the report says that “It is not always clear if and to what extent pressure felt by Christians, or even violence against them, is directly related to them being Christian. Sometimes, just living in a chaotic world creates substantial amounts of suffering for Christians and others alike .” This is a recipe for arbitrariness, making it evident that the ranking of any country, let alone India, must be based on factors other than actual persecution suffered by Christians, even assuming that that is measurable in any reliable way.

Open Doors also claims that the report is “independently audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom (IIRF)”. However, like Open Doors IIRF is an evangelical organisation promoting and supporting missionary activity and proselytism. A glance at the IIRF’s website makes it clear that they cannot be neutral bystanders or as independent as claimed while being members of the World Evangelical Alliance.

It is not that reports such as the one produced by Open Doors is anything unusual. We have become used to how those who wish us to convert away from the traditions of our ancestors, and therefore have a vested interest in declaiming against those traditions, continue to produce such tracts and press on with the idea that a basically pluralistic culture is in fact its opposite. That has been the practice of Christians of the last five centuries if not more, while proselytism is also being practiced against followers of the Indian traditions here in the UK.

We know too that the UK caste legislation was framed by pressure from such Christian missionary organisations and their affiliates, with the full support of the previous Labour government and parliamentarians of your Party. It has not gone unnoticed that the leading case of Tirkey, which there are good grounds to suggest was massaged into a case of caste discrimination, involved a Christian claimant, and the same case has been promoted by HMG as the basis of the UK’s protection for claimants of caste discrimination. Dawn Butler, Shadow Women & Equalities Secretary, has stated that the next Labour government would seek to put an end to caste-based prejudice and discrimination by enhancing the protections for our marginalised communities.

What is of greater immediate concern is that over 100 parliamentarians reportedly attended or were represented at the report’s launch where our Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, on the report’s basis, announced a global review on the persecution of Christians. You were among the other senior politicians present and you expressed both your pleasure to be at the launch of the report and concern at its findings. This indicates that you too took the report as a factual account of the countries it covers, including India, and not as the propaganda exercise which it demonstrably is. The press and fellow Christian organisations too duly reported the ‘findings’ of the report as conveying facts but suppressed the evangelical and missionary credentials of Open Doors and did not consider it fit to report that the person chosen to lead the review, Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro, also has a missionary background. To top it all Open Doors now describes the anticipated review as being “independent”.

You ought to be aware that Open doors has in the past described the practice of yoga as Satanic. However consistent that may be with Christian doctrines, it is indicative of the basis upon which Open Doors approaches India’s traditions, essentially regarding them as false religions that are undeserving of a future. Open Doors’ UK and Ireland budget amounts to greater than £12 million. It has in the past funded the Evangelical Fellowship of India to conduct public interest litigation against legislative controls on proselytism in India, thus interfering in the Indian legal system and its justified curbs on freewheeling missionary activity.

It isn’t the first time that Christian evangelical and proselytism agenda have determined Britain’s foreign policy. The Open Doors’ manoeuvring and its endorsement by Her Majesty’s Ministers and a significant segment of parliamentarians, including those from your own Party, is nevertheless of serious concern to us. It indicates that currently and in the Britain of the future those of a particular hostile faith agenda will be able to wield greater influence to have their interests secured, even though they happen to be inimical to the continuance of the ancestral traditions and practice of some others of us.

We wish to therefore request of you the following:

  1. Why as an opposition leader you have not asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how his endorsement of the Open Doors report and announcing of a review on its strength can be justified given that the tendentious report has no more than propagandistic value.
  2. How the support given to Open Doors by HMG and senior Labour Party politicians, including yourself, can be squared with this country’s proclaimed friendship with India, not least given that Open doors has a history of promoting proselytism and has a record of interfering in that country’s legal and religious affairs.
  3. How, as the Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, you and other Labour Party parliamentarians are able to endorse the tendentious report which, to reiterate, was evidently produced for propagandistic rather than factual value.
  4. What the Labour Party’s policy is on the continuing support by HMG in kind and monetarily of evangelical and missionary organisations such as Open Doors, and many others, which continue to promote aims that are inimical to the friendship between India and the UK and between their peoples.

We look forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely

Dr. Gautam Sen, Co-Director

Dr. Prakash Shah, Co-Director

Dharmic Ideas & Policy Foundation

Chairman: Prof. Nath Puri | Co-Director: Dr. Gautam Sen | Co-Director: Dr. Prakash Shah | Communications: Mukesh Naker
143 Cavendish Rd, Leicester. LE2 7PJ United Kingdom E: director@dipf.org.uk W: www.dipf.org.uk

Council Members
Dr. Come Carpentier | Dr. Jakob de Roover | Dr Jasdev Rai | Dr. Koenraad Elst | Dr. Manish Pandit | Abhinav Agrawal
Rajiv Varma | Dr. Rakesh Sinha | Mr. Rohit Patel | Prof. S. N. Balagangadhara | Sandeep Balakrishnan | Smita Barooah | Swami Vigyananand | Dr. Yvette Rosser

Reply from Emily Thornberry MP

10/04/19

Re – Open Doors 2018 Report

Dear Mr Naker

I can see that you wrote to me in February to raise your concerns about my support for the recent Open Doors Report in the persecution of Christians.

I always look at any reports critically, and in letters to my own constituents about the persecution of Christians abroad I have raised concerns about other countries which were not on Open Doors' list of the top ten countries, including Cameroon, Nigeria, Egypt and China. The persecution of Christians is a widespread issue across the world and one which must be taken seriously. Open Doors does important work in bringing information on this issue together and i have supported these efforts for a number of years.

The Labour Party is unequivocal in our support for religious freedom and efforts to address religious persecution around the world. In my role as Shadow Foreign Secretary, I remain committed to these principles and do what i can to promote them in my work.

I hope that this letter has clarified my thoughts on this matter. you are welcome to get back in touch if there are any further points that you would like to raise.

Best wishes,

Rt Hon Emily Thornberry MP
Islington South and Finsbury

Second email from DIPF

24/04/19

Re – Re Open Doors Report

Namaste Dear The Rt Hon. Emily Thornberry MP

The Dharmic Ideas & Policy Foundation and our stake holders, particularly from the Dharmic Communities of the UK, are very disappointed with your response to a well-reasoned and specific letter. It appears you have not taken the time to read it or address the four key questions we asked you to respond to.

Your response on the persecution of Christians is general and none of the points we have raised have been responded to. It would be helpful if you could respond to our specific points with respect to India. I set out the questions on which the Dharmic communities are seeking reassurances from the Labour Party and you as Shadow Foreign Minister.

They are important for our community’s understanding of whether the Labour Party values and will be safeguarding the human rights and the right to practice our faith without the threat or coercion from the Abrahamic religions against the Dharmic traditions. We would like a clear demonstratable policy statement on this.

We wish to therefore request of you the following:

1.       Why as an opposition leader you have not asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how his endorsement of the Open Doors report and announcing of a review on its strength can be justified given that the tendentious report has no more than propagandistic value.

2.       How the support given to Open Doors by HMG and senior Labour Party politicians, including yourself, can be squared with this country’s proclaimed friendship with India, not least given that Open doors has a history of promoting proselytism and has a record of interfering in that country’s legal and religious affairs.

3.       How, as the Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, you and other Labour Party parliamentarians are able to endorse the tendentious report which, to reiterate, was evidently produced for propagandistic rather than factual value.

4.       What the Labour Party’s policy is on the continuing support by HMG in kind and monetarily of evangelical and missionary organisations such as Open Doors, and many others, which continue to promote aims that are inimical to the friendship between India and the UK and between their peoples.

Please note our primary stake holders, who we regularly communicate with, are upwards of 500 Dharmic organisations representing 1.5 million members.

Pranaam

Mukesh Naker
Communications Officer.

Ms Dawn Butler MP

Ms Dawn Butler MP

Shadow Women & Equalities Secretary, House of Commons, Brent Central Constituency

Email from DIPF

12/02/19

Re – Re Open Doors Report

Namaste Dear Ms Dawn Butler MP,

The Dharmic Ideas & Policy Foundation (DIPF) was established in February 2015 with a launch at the Palace of Westminster to give Britain’s Dharmic communities (i.e. those following Indian traditions) and grassroots a steer on key policy matters that impact on them and provide policymakers with a steer on matters that concern the Dharmic communities. As you are the Shadow Women & Equalities Secretary and an MP with long experience of serving constituencies with a large proportion of Dharmic communities, we wish to raise the following issue of some concern to us.

An event in parliament in January 2019 is the catalyst for our concerns, while its background and consequences are also worrying. The event in question is the launch of a report by the organisation Open Doors on the persecution of Christians worldwide. The launched report ranks India as being among the top 10 of countries where persecution of Christians rages. India has been steadily moving up in the previous editions of the Open Doors’ reports, but this is the first time it has assumed 10th place pushing out Syria!

This ranking smacks of manipulation. You may be aware of India’s tradition of pluralism where Christian padres explicitly campaign for the political party of their choice and, as often happens nowadays, against the current ruling BJP government, in such a way that we in the UK would consider criminal under applicable legislation. Allegations of persecution against Christians in India have subsequently proven groundless, as often pointed out by Christians themselves.

If you did not already have grounds for suspicion, then reading the methodology employed by Open Doors would ignite it. Underwriting its own unreliability, the section explaining the methodology of the report says that “It is not always clear if and to what extent pressure felt by Christians, or even violence against them, is directly related to them being Christian. Sometimes, just living in a chaotic world creates substantial amounts of suffering for Christians and others alike.” This is a recipe for arbitrariness, making it evident that the ranking of any country, let alone India, must be based on factors other than actual persecution suffered by Christians, even assuming that that is measurable in any reliable way.

Open Doors also claims that the report is “independently audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom (IIRF)”. However, like Open Doors IIRF is an evangelical organisation promoting and supporting missionary activity and proselytism. A glance at the IIRF’s website makes it clear that they cannot be neutral bystanders or as independent as claimed while being members of the World Evangelical Alliance.

It is not that reports such as the one produced by Open Doors is anything unusual. We have become used to how those who wish us to convert away from the traditions of our ancestors, and therefore have a vested interest in declaiming against those traditions, continue to produce such tracts and press on with the idea that a basically pluralistic culture is in fact its opposite. That has been the practice of Christians of the last five centuries if not more, while proselytism is also being practiced against followers of the Indian traditions here in the UK.

We know too that the UK caste legislation was framed by pressure from such Christian missionary organisations and their affiliates, with the full support of the previous Labour government and parliamentarians of your Party. It has not gone unnoticed that the leading case of Tirkey, which there are good grounds to suggest was massaged into a case of caste discrimination, involved a Christian claimant, and the same case has been promoted by HMG as the basis of the UK’s protection for claimants of caste discrimination. You have stated that the next Labour government would seek to put an end to caste-based prejudice and discrimination by enhancing the protections for our marginalised communities.

What is of greater concern is that over 100 parliamentarians reportedly attended or were represented at the report’s launch where our Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, on the report’s basis, announced a global review on the persecution of Christians. Other politicians present included the Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Emily Thornberry, expressing both her pleasure to be at the launch of the report and concern at its findings. This indicates that she too took the report as a factual account of the countries it covers, including India, and not as the propaganda exercise which it demonstrably is. The press and fellow Christian organisations too duly reported the ‘findings’ of the report as conveying facts but suppressed the evangelical and missionary credentials of Open Doors and did not consider it fit to report that the person chosen to lead the review, Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro, also has a missionary background. To top it all Open Doors now describes the anticipated review as being “independent”.

You ought to be aware that Open doors has in the past described the practice of yoga as Satanic. However consistent that may be with Christian doctrines, it is indicative of the basis upon which Open Doors approaches India’s traditions, essentially regarding them as false religions that are undeserving of a future. Open Doors’ UK and Ireland budget amounts to greater than £12 million. It has in the past funded the Evangelical Fellowship of India to conduct public interest litigation against legislative controls on proselytism in India, thus interfering in the Indian legal system and its justified curbs on freewheeling missionary activity.

It isn’t the first time that Christian evangelical and proselytism agenda have determined Britain’s foreign policy. The Open Doors’ manoeuvring and its endorsement by Her Majesty’s Ministers and a significant segment of parliamentarians, including those from your own Party, is nevertheless of serious concern to us. It indicates that currently and in the Britain of the future those of a particular hostile faith agenda will be able to wield greater influence to have their interests secured, even though they happen to be inimical to the continuance of the ancestral traditions and practice of some others of us.

We wish to therefore request of you the following:

  1. To ask of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how his endorsement of the Open Doors report and announcing of a review on its strength can be justified given that the tendentious report has no more than propagandistic value.
  2. To ask both HMG and the Labour Party how the support given to Open Doors by HMG can be squared with its proclaimed friendship with India not least given that Open doors has a history of promoting proselytism and has a record of interfering in that country’s legal and religious affairs.
  3. How the Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Emily Thornberry and other Labour Party parliamentarians, are able to endorse the tendentious report which, to reiterate, was evidently produced for propagandistic rather than factual value.
  4. What the Labour Party’s policy is on the continuing support by HMG in kind and monetarily of evangelical and missionary organisations such as Open Doors, and many others, which continue to promote aims that are inimical to the friendship between India and the UK and between their peoples.

We look forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely

Dr. Gautam Sen, Co-Director

Dr. Prakash Shah, Co-Director

Dharmic Ideas & Policy Foundation

Chairman: Prof. Nath Puri | Co-Director: Dr. Gautam Sen | Co-Director: Dr. Prakash Shah | Communications: Mukesh Naker
143 Cavendish Rd, Leicester. LE2 7PJ United Kingdom E: director@dipf.org.uk W: www.dipf.org.uk

Council Members
Dr. Come Carpentier | Dr. Jakob de Roover | Dr Jasdev Rai | Dr. Koenraad Elst | Dr. Manish Pandit | Abhinav Agrawal
Rajiv Varma | Dr. Rakesh Sinha | Mr. Rohit Patel | Prof. S. N. Balagangadhara | Sandeep Balakrishnan | Smita Barooah | Swami Vigyananand | Dr. Yvette Rosser

Bob Blackman MP

Bob Blackman MP

House of Commons, Harrow East Constituency

Email from DIPF

12/02/19

Re – Open Doors 2018 Report

Namaste Dear Bob

I hope all is well.

You are justifiably treated as a friend of India. It is for this reason that we are addressing you to raise the following issue of some concern to us.

An event in parliament in January 2019 is the catalyst for our concerns, while its background and consequences are also worrying. The event in question is the launch of a report by the organisation Open Doors on the persecution of Christians worldwide. The launched report ranks India as being among the top 10 of countries where persecution of Christians rages. India has been steadily moving up in the previous editions of the Open Doors’ reports, but this is the first time it has assumed 10th place pushing out Syria!

Without needing to read the report, you and we know that this ranking smacks of manipulation. You also know India’s tradition of pluralism where Christian padres explicitly campaign for the political party of their choice and, as often happens nowadays, against the current ruling BJP government, acts that we in the UK would consider criminal under applicable legislation.
If you did not already have grounds for suspicion, then reading the methodology employed by Open Doors would ignite it. Underwriting its own unreliability, the section explaining the methodology of the report says that “It is not always clear if and to what extent pressure felt by Christians, or even violence against them, is directly related to them being Christian. Sometimes, just living in a chaotic world creates substantial amounts of suffering for Christians and others alike .” This is a recipe for arbitrariness, making it evident that the ranking of any country, let alone India, must be based on factors other than actual persecution suffered by Christians, even assuming that that is measurable in any reliable way.

Open Doors also claims that the report is “independently audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom (IIRF)”. However, like Open Doors IIRF is an evangelical organisation promoting and supporting missionary activity and proselytism. A glance at the IIRF’s website makes it clear that they cannot be neutral bystanders while being members of the World Evangelical Alliance.

It is not that reports such as the one produced by Open Doors is anything unusual. We have become used to how those who wish us to convert away from the traditions of our ancestors, and therefore have a vested interest in declaiming against those traditions, continue to produce such tracts and press on with the idea that a basically pluralistic culture is in fact its opposite. That has been the practice of Christians of the last five centuries if not more.

We know too that the UK caste legislation was framed by pressure from such organisations and their affiliates. It has not gone unnoticed that the leading case of Tirkey, which there are good grounds to suggest was massaged into a case of caste discrimination, involved a Christian claimant. That same case has been promoted by the current Conservative government, pursuant to its caste consultation, as the basis of the UK’s protection for claimants of caste discrimination. We have noted that unfortunately you gave your backing to HMG’s response to the caste consultation and have criticised those who opposed the case law as well as the legislative duty on caste discrimination.

Of immediate concern is that over 100 parliamentarians reportedly attended or were represented at the Open Doors report’s launch where our Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, on the report’s basis, announced a global review on the persecution of Christians. This indicates that he and current (Penny Mordaunt) and former ministers (Theresa Villiers) as well as other leading members of the Conservative party took the report as a factual account of the countries it covers, including India, and not as the propaganda exercise which it demonstrably is.

The press and fellow Christian organisations too duly reported the ‘findings’ of the report as conveying facts but suppressed the evangelical and missionary credentials of Open Doors and did not consider it fit to report that the person chosen by Jeremy Hunt to lead the review, Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro, also has a missionary background. To top it all Open Doors now describes the anticipated review as being “independent”.

You ought to be aware that Open doors has in the past described the practice of yoga as Satanic. However consistent that may be with Christian doctrines, it is indicative of the basis upon which Open Doors approaches India’s traditions, essentially regarding them as false religions that are undeserving of a future. Open Doors’ UK and Ireland budget amounts to greater than £12 million. It has in the past funded the Evangelical Fellowship of India to conduct public interest litigation against legislative controls on proselytism in India, thus interfering in the Indian legal system and its justified curbs on freewheeling missionary activity.

It isn’t the first time that Christian evangelical and proselytism agenda have determined Britain’s foreign policy. The Open Doors’ manoeuvring and its endorsement by Her Majesty’s Ministers and a significant segment of parliamentarians, including those from your own party, is nevertheless of serious concern to us. It indicates that currently and in the Britain of the future those of a particular hostile faith agenda will be able to wield greater influence to have their interests secured, even though they happen to be inimical to the continuance of the ancestral traditions and practices of some others of us.

We wish to therefore request of you the following:

1. To inquire of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how his endorsement of the Open Doors report and announcing of a review on its strength can be justified given that the tendentious report has no more than propagandistic value.

2. To inquire of both HMG and the Conservative Party how the support given to Open Doors by HMG can be squared with its proclaimed friendship with India not least given that Open doors has a history of promoting proselytism and has a record of interfering in that country’s legal and religious affairs.

3. How HMG ministers can justify tying British foreign policy to evangelical and missionary interests of the kind Open doors represents and how they can justify the expenditure that would be involved in any funding through public expense of the review announced by Jeremy Hunt.

4. What funds will be expended for the review announced by Jeremy Hunt and what funds have either committed by HMG or have in the past been given to Open doors.

5. To inquire as to the Conservative Party’s policy on the continuing support by HMG in kind and monetarily of evangelical and missionary organisations such as Open Doors, and many others, which continue to promote aims that are inimical to the friendship between India and the UK and between their peoples.
We look forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely

Dr. Gautam Sen, Co-Director
Dr. Prakash Shah, Co-Director
Dharmic Ideas & Policy Foundation

Chairman: Prof. Nath Puri | Co-Director: Dr. Gautam Sen | Co-Director: Dr. Prakash Shah | Communications: Mukesh Naker
143 Cavendish Rd, Leicester. LE2 7PJ United Kingdom E: director@dipf.org.uk W: www.dipf.org.uk

Council Members
Dr. Come Carpentier | Dr. Jakob de Roover | Dr Jasdev Rai | Dr. Koenraad Elst | Dr. Manish Pandit | Abhinav Agrawal
Rajiv Varma | Dr. Rakesh Sinha | Mr. Rohit Patel | Prof. S. N. Balagangadhara | Sandeep Balakrishnan | Smita Barooah | Swami Vigyananand | Dr. Yvette Rosser

Reply from Bob Blackman MP

14/02/19

Many thanks. I will consider the points you have made carefully. I did not attend this launch and I have already had conversations with colleagues about this announcement. I have also discussed the position with the High Commissioner.

I will be following this up over the next few days.

Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow East

Barry Gardiner MP

Barry Gardiner MP

Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Climate Change), House of Commons, Brent North Constituency

Email from DIPF

12/02/19

Re – Re Open Doors Report

Namaste Dear Barry

I hope all is well.

You are justifiably treated as a friend of India and it is well known that in the past you have called out propaganda against India. It is for these reasons that we are addressing you to raise the following issue of some concern to us.

An event in parliament in January 2019 is the catalyst for our concerns, while its background and consequences are also worrying. The event in question is the launch of a report by the organisation Open Doors on the persecution of Christians worldwide. The launched report ranks India as being among the top 10 of countries where persecution of Christians rages. India has been steadily moving up in the previous editions of the Open Doors’ reports, but this is the first time it has assumed 10th place pushing out Syria!

Without needing to read the report, you and we know that this ranking smacks of manipulation. You also know India’s tradition of pluralism where Christian padres explicitly campaign for the political party of their choice and, as often happens nowadays, against the current ruling BJP government, acts that we in the UK would consider criminal under applicable legislation. Allegations of persecution against Christians in India have subsequently proven groundless, as often pointed out by Indian Christians themselves.

If you did not already have grounds for suspicion, then reading the methodology employed by Open Doors would ignite it. Underwriting its own unreliability, the section explaining the methodology of the report says that “It is not always clear if and to what extent pressure felt by Christians, or even violence against them, is directly related to them being Christian. Sometimes, just living in a chaotic world creates substantial amounts of suffering for Christians and others alike .” This is a recipe for arbitrariness, making it evident that the ranking of any country, let alone India, must be based on factors other than actual persecution suffered by Christians, even assuming that that is measurable in any reliable way.

Open Doors also claims that the report is “independently audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom (IIRF)”. However, like Open Doors IIRF is an evangelical organisation promoting and supporting missionary activity and proselytism. A glance at the IIRF’s website makes it clear that they cannot be neutral bystanders while being members of the World Evangelical Alliance.

It is not that reports such as the one produced by Open Doors is anything unusual. We have become used to how those who wish us to convert away from the traditions of our ancestors, and therefore have a vested interest in declaiming against those traditions, continue to produce such tracts and press on with the idea that a basically pluralistic culture is in fact its opposite. That has been the practice of Christians of the last five centuries if not more and proselytism is being practiced against followers of the Indian traditions here in the UK too.

We know too that the UK caste legislation was framed by pressure from such Christian missionary organisations and their affiliates with the full support of the previous Labour government and parliamentarians of your Party. It has not gone unnoticed that the leading case of Tirkey, which there are good grounds to suggest was massaged into a case of caste discrimination, involved a Christian claimant, and the same case has been promoted by HMG as the basis of the UK’s protection for claimants of caste discrimination.

What is of greater concern is that over 100 parliamentarians reportedly attended or were represented at the report’s launch where our Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, on the report’s basis, announced a global review on the persecution of Christians. Other politicians present included the Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Emily Thornberry, expressing both her pleasure to be at the launch of the report and concern at its findings. This indicates that she too took the report as a factual account of the countries it covers, including India, and not as the propaganda exercise which it demonstrably is. The press and fellow Christian organisations too duly reported the ‘findings’ of the report as conveying facts but suppressed the evangelical and missionary credentials of Open Doors and did not consider it fit to report that the person chosen to lead the review, Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro, also has a missionary background. To top it all Open Doors now describes the anticipated review as being “independent”.

You ought to be aware that Open doors has in the past described the practice of yoga as Satanic. However consistent that may be with Christian doctrines, it is indicative of the basis upon which Open Doors approaches India’s traditions, essentially regarding them as false religions that are undeserving of a future. Open Doors’ UK and Ireland budget amounts to greater than £12 million. It has in the past funded the Evangelical Fellowship of India to conduct public interest litigation against legislative controls on proselytism in India, thus interfering in the Indian legal system and its justified curbs on freewheeling missionary activity.

It isn’t the first time that Christian evangelical and proselytism agenda have determined Britain’s foreign policy. The Open Doors’ manoeuvring and its endorsement by Her Majesty’s Ministers and a significant segment of parliamentarians, including those from your own party, is nevertheless of serious concern to us. It indicates that currently and in the Britain of the future those of a particular hostile faith agenda will be able to wield greater influence to have their interests secured, even though they happen to be inimical to the continuance of the ancestral traditions and practice of some others of us.

We wish to therefore request of you the following:

  1. To ask of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how his endorsement of the Open Doors report and announcing of a review on its strength can be justified given that the tendentious report has no more than propagandistic value.
  2. To ask both HMG and the Labour Party how the support given to Open Doors by HMG can be squared with its proclaimed friendship with India not least given that Open doors has a history of promoting proselytism and has a record of interfering in that country’s legal and religious affairs.
  3. How the Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Emily Thornberry and other Labour Party parliamentarians, are able to endorse the tendentious report which, to reiterate, was evidently produced for propagandistic rather than factual value.
  4. What the Labour Party’s policy is on the continuing support by HMG in kind and monetarily of evangelical and missionary organisations such as Open Doors, and many others, which continue to promote aims that are inimical to the friendship between India and the UK and between their peoples.

We look forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely

Dr. Gautam Sen, Co-Director

Dr. Prakash Shah, Co-Director

Dharmic Ideas & Policy Foundation

Chairman: Prof. Nath Puri | Co-Director: Dr. Gautam Sen | Co-Director: Dr. Prakash Shah | Communications: Mukesh Naker
143 Cavendish Rd, Leicester. LE2 7PJ United Kingdom E: director@dipf.org.uk W: www.dipf.org.uk

Council Members
Dr. Come Carpentier | Dr. Jakob de Roover | Dr Jasdev Rai | Dr. Koenraad Elst | Dr. Manish Pandit | Abhinav Agrawal
Rajiv Varma | Dr. Rakesh Sinha | Mr. Rohit Patel | Prof. S. N. Balagangadhara | Sandeep Balakrishnan | Smita Barooah | Swami Vigyananand | Dr. Yvette Rosser

Gareth Thomas MP

Gareth Thomas MP

House of Commons, Harrow West Constituency

Email from DIPF

12/02/19

Re – 09022019 DIPF Gareth Thomas MP Re Open Doors Report

Namaste Dear Gareth

As an MP with long experience of serving a constituency with a large proportion of Dharmic communities and as Chair of the APPG on Jains, we wish to raise the following issue of some concern to us.

An event in parliament in January 2019 is the catalyst for our concerns, while its background and consequences are also worrying. The event in question is the launch of a report by the organisation Open Doors on the persecution of Christians worldwide. The launched report ranks India as being among the top 10 of countries where persecution of Christians rages. India has been steadily moving up in the previous editions of the Open Doors’ reports, but this is the first time it has assumed 10th place pushing out Syria!

This ranking smacks of manipulation. You may be aware of India’s tradition of pluralism where Christian padres explicitly campaign for the political party of their choice and, as often happens nowadays, against the current ruling BJP government, in such a way that we in the UK would consider criminal under applicable legislation. Allegations of persecution against Christians in India have subsequently proven groundless, as often pointed out by Indian Christians themselves.

If you did not already have grounds for suspicion, then reading the methodology employed by Open Doors would ignite it. Underwriting its own unreliability, the section explaining the methodology of the report says that “It is not always clear if and to what extent pressure felt by Christians, or even violence against them, is directly related to them being Christian. Sometimes, just living in a chaotic world creates substantial amounts of suffering for Christians and others alike .” This is a recipe for arbitrariness, making it evident that the ranking of any country, let alone India, must be based on factors other than actual persecution suffered by Christians, even assuming that that is measurable in any reliable way.

Open Doors also claims that the report is “independently audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom (IIRF)”. However, like Open Doors IIRF is an evangelical organisation promoting and supporting missionary activity and proselytism. A glance at the IIRF’s website makes it clear that they cannot be neutral bystanders or as independent as claimed while being members of the World Evangelical Alliance.

It is not that reports such as the one produced by Open Doors are anything unusual. We have become used to how those who wish us to convert away from the traditions of our ancestors, and therefore have a vested interest in declaiming against those traditions, continue to produce such tracts and press on with the idea that a basically pluralistic culture is in fact its opposite. That has been the practice of Christians of the last five centuries if not more. Proselytism is being practiced against followers of the Indian traditions here in the UK too.

We know too that the UK caste legislation was framed by pressure from such Christian organisations and their affiliates with the full support of the previous Labour government and parliamentarians of your Party. It has not gone unnoticed that the leading case of Tirkey, which there are good grounds to suggest was massaged into a case of caste discrimination, involved a Christian claimant, and the same case has been promoted by HMG as the basis of the UK’s protection for claimants of caste discrimination.

What is of greater concern is that over 100 parliamentarians reportedly attended or were represented at the report’s launch where our Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, on the report’s basis, announced a global review on the persecution of Christians. Other politicians present included the Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Emily Thornberry, expressing both her pleasure to be at the launch of the report and concern at its findings. This indicates that she too took the report as a factual account of the countries it covers, including India, and not as the propaganda exercise which it demonstrably is. The press and fellow Christian organisations too duly reported the ‘findings’ of the report as conveying facts but suppressed the evangelical and missionary credentials of Open Doors and did not consider it fit to report that the person chosen to lead the review, Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro, also has a missionary background. To top it all Open Doors now describes the anticipated review as being “independent”.

You ought to be aware that Open doors has in the past described the practice of yoga as Satanic. However consistent that may be with Christian doctrines, it is indicative of the basis upon which Open Doors approaches India’s traditions, essentially regarding them as false religions that are undeserving of a future. Open Doors’ UK and Ireland budget amounts to greater than £12 million. It has in the past funded the Evangelical Fellowship of India to conduct public interest litigation against legislative controls on proselytism in India, thus interfering in the Indian legal system and its justified curbs on freewheeling missionary activity.

It isn’t the first time that Christian evangelical and proselytism agenda have determined Britain’s foreign policy. The Open Doors’ manoeuvring and its endorsement by Her Majesty’s Ministers and a significant segment of parliamentarians, including those from your own Party, is nevertheless of serious concern to us. It indicates that currently and in the Britain of the future those of a particular hostile faith agenda will be able to wield greater influence to have their interests secured, even though they happen to be inimical to the continuance of the ancestral traditions and practice of some others of us.

We wish to therefore request of you the following:

  1. To ask of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how his endorsement of the Open Doors report and announcing of a review on its strength can be justified given that the tendentious report has no more than propagandistic value.
  2. To ask both HMG and the Labour Party how the support given to Open Doors by HMG can be squared with its proclaimed friendship with India not least given that Open doors has a history of promoting proselytism and has a record of interfering in that country’s legal and religious affairs.
  3. How the Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Emily Thornberry and other Labour Party parliamentarians, are able to endorse the tendentious report which, to reiterate, was evidently produced for propagandistic rather than factual value.
  4. What the Labour Party’s policy is on the continuing support by HMG in kind and monetarily of evangelical and missionary organisations such as Open Doors, and many others, which continue to promote aims that are inimical to the friendship between India and the UK and between their peoples.

We look forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely

Dr. Gautam Sen, Co-Director

Dr. Prakash Shah, Co-Director

Dharmic Ideas & Policy Foundation

Chairman: Prof. Nath Puri | Co-Director: Dr. Gautam Sen | Co-Director: Dr. Prakash Shah | Communications: Mukesh Naker
143 Cavendish Rd, Leicester. LE2 7PJ United Kingdom E: director@dipf.org.uk W: www.dipf.org.uk

Council Members
Dr. Come Carpentier | Dr. Jakob de Roover | Dr Jasdev Rai | Dr. Koenraad Elst | Dr. Manish Pandit | Abhinav Agrawal
Rajiv Varma | Dr. Rakesh Sinha | Mr. Rohit Patel | Prof. S. N. Balagangadhara | Sandeep Balakrishnan | Smita Barooah | Swami Vigyananand | Dr. Yvette Rosser