Christian Missionaries
At Work In India
Anil Kumar

...He (Gora) also worked with India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, an atheist, urging him to support the formation of a secular government in the then predominantly Hindu nation of India...

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "K.R. Anil Kumar"
Subject: Re: PA-via_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: Sunday, July 08, 2001 7:09 AM

I thank you for further clarification as to the situation in India. I will post this and provide a link to it from the India Index. I have been invited to visit the Atheist Centre in February, but I'm not sure if I can go (money; health). If I do go, I know I will be welcomed with the hospitality that is given only by people from India. In fact, I just returned from dining out, at an Indian restaurant near my home, and was reminded of that hospitality. A market near my home recently closed, which was run by Indians, and I always got the same unique hospitality whenever I stopped by. I used to live in Mexico, and have always been impressed by the style of hospitality and respect that distinguishes Mexican culture. I can say this about many nationalities, but the Mexican, Indian, and Lebanese cultures have always held a special place in my heart. Perhaps I will be able to visit all three countries eventually.

We get varied stories about India's government, and I am beginning to think that the government is probably as multi-faceted as the people themselves. I do know that Gandhi is said to have tried to be all things to all people. Gora opposed this tendency, criticizing those who called themselves atheists but then went to religious ceremonies in order to please their friends or family. I differ from Gora in that I appreciate how hard it is to be an atheist in some parts of the world and in some situations, so I do not criticize those who think it is best to keep their atheism a secret or to go along with certain ceremonies. Although I do not urge others to become atheists, neither do I keep my atheism a secret -- and I often pay dearly for making this admission.

Although I do not have the source citation, Nehru is quoted as having said:

The spectacle of what is called religion, or at any rate organized religion, in India and elsewhere, has filled us with horror, and I have frequently condemned it and wished to make a clean sweep of it.

Nehru was no friend of organized religion, nor did he tolerate the religious teachings which kept people passive, "satisfied to live in hunger, filth, and ignorance." I am not entirely sure if Nehru was an atheist, but have heard from several sources that he was. Perhaps you know the answer to this question. If not, I ought to change that sentence in the "Introduction."

I think Nehru and the others probably wanted India's first government to be unaffiliated, though that does not necessarily abolish government funding of various religious causes. This is the big argument in the United States today, and has been for about 50 years, since the beginning of the Cold War. However, what one or the other founding figure wanted is not necessarily the same as what ended up in the Constitution, and the Constitution is not always obeyed. In the United States, our Constitution has never been obeyed in its entirety, and a few of its tenets may as well have never been written down, because they have, for the most part, never been obeyed by more than a handful of elected servants.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

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