Karnataka Government funding Churches

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An RTI application filed in Karnataka has brought to light alarming figures of enormous government funding sanctioned for construction and renovation of Churches in the State, which raises serious questions about State funding of evangelical activities of Christian missionaries in India.

Four RTI applications were filed on 26 March 2016, addressed to the Directorate of Minorities Welfare in Karnataka, seeking information on funds granted to Christian minority organisations, Churches, Christian groups and associations that have received funds from the Government of Karnataka for construction, repair and renovation of churches. The information was sought separately for the financial years 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16.

The reply received from the Joint Director of the Directorate of Minorities Welfare, dated 19 May 2016, provides year-wise figures of funds granted to these institutions.

The RTI response reveals that in the year 2015-16, a total of Rs. 1484.60 lakhs (Rs 14.85 crores) was granted for repair and renovation of churches alone.

In the year 2014-15, Rs 1498.32 lakhs was provided in grants for construction of new “Community Halls” (Samudaya Bhavana) and Rs 1656.33 lakhs for repair and renovation of churches.

In the year 2013-2014, Rs 672.10 lakhs was granted for construction of new “Community Halls” and Rs 1230.85 lakhs for repair and renovation of churches.

The extent of government funding of construction and renovation of churches in Karnataka reinforces the concern many Hindus have been expressing about the discriminatory nature of secularism in India and the dangerous consequences of rampant proselytization which is a direct fallout of such state support to Christian evangelists in India.

If one extrapolates this data from Karnataka to other states like Tamilnadu and Kerala, the scenario which emerges is staggering and raises many serious questions. This RTI filed in Karnataka deserves to be replicated in all states and the data made public. Individuals who file such RTIs on sensitive issues are vulnerable to be targeted by the Church and its support system.

The public has a right to know where the tax payer’s is going. Therefore, it would be better if the State Governments and the Directorate of Minorities’ Welfare ensure greater transparency by declaring the list of beneficiaries and grants given for each financial year through an annual notification.

The Karnataka government notification clearly says that grants will be given for repair and renovation of existing churches. Why is it then that the government is funding construction of new churches? Given the massive amount of foreign funding that Christian missionaries receive in this country, the government has no justification for funding construction or renovation of churches. This money can be better spent on improving the overall socio-economic development of minority communities.

Such funding of churches implies that the State is conniving and supporting proselytization and conversion of Hindus to Christianity. It is an open secret that many Christian organisations receive enormous amounts of foreign funding under the pretext of doing social service in India, which is then diverted to conversion activities.

Notice also the insidious acculturation techniques used by the missionaries – many of the Churches are named as ‘Devalayas’ which is the Sanskrit-Kannada word for temples. Some Christian associations also hide behind misleading names like ‘Mar Makil Gurukulam Samstha,’ ‘Pavitra Kutumba Devalaya’ and ‘Mokshada Rani Catholic Church,’ notwithstanding the fact that there is no concept of a ‘gurukulam’ or ‘moksha’ in Christianity.

Many churches listed in the RTI response are in sensitive areas and in close proximity to important Hindu pilgrimage centres like Udupi, Dharmasthala, Belur, Hassan and Sringeri, to cite a few. Isn’t the State encouraging a serious demographic tilt in such sensitive areas by funding the construction of new churches?

Karnataka witnessed communal violence in 2008 because of forced conversions, land grabbing and distribution of inflammatory literature targeting Hindu gods by the New Life Church - a Protestant sect operating in the state. Satya Darshini, a Kannada book containing inflammatory material denigrating Hindu gods, was also distributed, which irked many Hindus.

It is appalling to note that while churches in Karnataka and other states receive massive funding for renovation, many ancient Hindu temples and heritage sites which require urgent renovation are in a state of utter neglect and apathy. A tragic case-in-point is the 136-feet 'Rajagopuram' of the famous Srikalahasti temple which collapsed in 2010. A thin crack which had developed in the structure 25 years ago was left completely unattended, which led to the disaster.

Reporting the collapse of the elegant temple tower, The Hindu wrote, “The irony is that the magnificent 15th century tower, built by Vijayanagara King Sri Krishnadevaraya in commemoration of his visit to the shrine after triumphing over his rivals, collapsed even as the emperor's 500th coronation ceremony is being celebrated by the governments of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka with pomp.”

Similarly, in October 2012, the Shivaji Gopuram of the famous Srisailam temple in Andhra Pradesh, believed to have been constructed by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj himself, collapsed even as the temple authorities and archaeological officials kept debating whether the temple tower required a partial or total renovation.

Should the State and Central Governments spend public money on financing the construction and maintenance of religious places of worship? The State should withdraw such needless interventions in religious matters. Controlling the management of Hindu temples through HR&CE, while allowing a free run to the places of worship of the minority community, amounts to discrimination against the Hindu community.

A sample list of beneficiaries and the amounts sanctioned for the year 2015-16 can be seen in the table below provided here for illustrative purpose (English translation of the original document in Kannada):

Details of the funds granted to Churches for repair and renovation for the year 2015-16
(Translated from the original document in Kannada dt. 19.05.2016 issued by the Directorate of Minorities Welfare, Government of Karnataka, in response to an RTI filed on 26.03.2016)

S. No. District Taluk Place Name Of The Institution Amount (In Lakhs)
1 Bangalore Urban Bangalore Balaji Nagar Mar Makil Gurukulam Sanstha 26.15
2 Bangalore Urban Bangalore Cox Town Jiang Education And Social 5.00
3 Bangalore Urban Bangalore Divanara Palya St. Sebastian Church 20.00
4 Belgaum Belgaum Belgaum Divine Mercy Church 9.00
5 Bellary Bellary Bellary Christ The King Church 50.00
6 Bellary Bellary Sandoor Christ Jyothi Church 11.00
7 Chamaraj Nagar Gundlu Pete Gundlu Pete St. Urdu Mateya Church 10.00
8 Chamaraj Nagar Kollegala Martalli St. Sebastian Church 23.36
9 Chamaraj Nagar Chamaraj Nagar Kiragasur St. Mathiyasara
Devalaya
15.00
10 Chamaraj Nagar Chamaraj Nagar Petegrama St. Theresa Devalaya 15.00
11 Chikmagalore Mudigere Mudigere St. Antony Church 50.00
12 Chikmagalore Vijayapura Vijayapura Holy Family Church 20.00
13 Chikmagalore N R Pu Balehonnur Vijayamathe Church 40.00
14 Chikkaballapur Shidla Ghatta Haleganjiunte Region Of Seventh Day Adventist Church 10.00
15 Chikkaballapur Chintamani Kappali Region Of Seventh Day
Adventist Church
10.00
16 Chikkaballapur Chintamani Rasapalli Region Of Seventh Day
Adventist Church
10.00
17 Chikkaballapur Chintamani Doddahalli Region Of Seventh Day
Adventist Church
10.00
18 Chikkaballapur Chintamani Sujjanahalli Region Of Seventh Day
Adventist Church
10.00
19 Chikkaballapur Chintamani Muddalahalli Region Of Seventh Day
Adventist Church
10.00
20 Chikkaballapur Shidlaghatta Hosur Seventh Day Adventist
Church
10.00
21 Dakshina Kannada Bantvala Samburu Sacred Heart Church 13.00
22 Dakshina Kannada Beltangadi Mundaje St. Mary’s Church 5.00
23 Dakshina Kannada Beltangadi Tottadi St. Antony Church 45.00
24 Dakshina Kannada Bantvala Mucharapadavu Our Lady Of Fathima Church 20.00
25 Dakshina Kannada Puttur Nelyadi St. Thomas Jacobite Church 20.00
26 Dakshina Kannada Beltangadi Kalenja St. Mary’s Church 2.00
27 Dakshina Kannada Beltangadi Kalenja St. Sebastian Church 27.00
28 Dakshina Kannada Mangalore Adyapadi Mary Help Of Christian Church 12.50
29 Dakshina Kannada Mangalore Jeppu St. Joseph Church 45.24
30 Dakshina Kannada Bantvala Parangipet Mount Mary Count Devaru 37.35
31 Dakshina Kannada Puttur Kuprupadi Mary’s Catholic Church 30.00
32 Kalburgi Chittapur Chittapur Mokshada Rani Catholic Church 18.00
33 Kalburgi Chittapur Kollur Methodist Church 10.00
34 Kalburgi Chittapur Vadi Infant Jesus 8.25
35 Kodagu Kushalnagar Kushalnagar St. Sebastian Church 20.00
36 Kodagu Somavarpet Balagunda O L V Church 10.25
37 Kodagu Somavarpet Gopalpur Antony Church 20.00
38 Kodagu Virajpet Virajpet St. Annama Church 40.00
39 Kolar KGF Ashoknagar Living God Church 12.00
40 Koppala Koppala Koppala SFS Church 10.00
41 Koppala Munirabad Munirabad Our Lady Of Fathima Church 13.00
42 Hassan Belur Fathimapura Our Lady Of Fathima Church 10.00
43 Hassan Belur Arehalli St. John The Evangelist Church 30.00
44 Haveri Byadagi Byadagi St. John Maria Vienna Christian Roman Church 10.00
45 Mandya Maddur Besagarahalli Sacred Heart Church 15.00
46 Mysuru T Narasipura Triveninagar Paris Based Infant Jesus Church 30.00
47 Shimoga Soraba NH Hosur Sacred Heart Church 20.00
48 Raichur Manavi Tadakal St. Joseph Devalaya Church 10.00
49 Raichur Manavi Marakandinni Arogyamate Devalaya Church 10.00
50 Raichur Manavi Sasirava Methodist Church 10.00
51 Raichur Manavi Belavaja St. Antony Church 11.50
52 Raichur Manavi Karabadinni St. Joseph Devalaya 17.50
53 Raichur Manavi Hirakotnakal Pavitra Kutumba Devalaya 16.00
54 Raichur Manavi Muddanagudi St. Mariamma’s Devalaya 16.50
55 Raichur Manavi Amareshwara Campus Mother Teresa Devalaya 19.00
56 Raichur Manavi Mudigere Methodist Church 10.00
57 Raichur Manavi Jalapur Methodist Church 10.00
58 Udupi Udupi Udyavana St. Francis Xavier Church 50.00
59 Udupi Udupi Panduri Holy Cross Church 10.00
60 Udupi Karkala Shirva Savudi Ammanavara Church 40.00
61 Uttara Kannada Haliyal Garadolli Mary Queen Of Heaven Ind Church 15.00
62 Uttara Kannada Karwar Padarigada St. Joseph Church 40.00
63 Uttara Kannada Karwar Sadashivagada St. Joseph Church 40.00
64 Uttara Kannada Haliyala Homanalli Fathima Church 9.00
65 Uttara Kannada Honnavar Honnavar San Salvadora Church 50.00
66 Uttara Kannada Haliyala Mangalavada St. Sebastian Church 9.00
67 Uttara Kannada Honnavar Honnavar Salvador Church 50.00
68 Uttara Kannada Bhatkal Bailur St. Francis Xavier Church 50.00
69 Uttara Kannada Karwar Karwar Lady Of Ascension Church 18.00
70 Uttara Kannada Yellapur Yellapur Holy Rosary Church 20.00
71 Yadagiri Yadagiri Metnahalli Methodist Church 10.00
72 Yadagiri Yadagiri Killanakera Methodist Church 9.00
73 Yadagiri Yadagiri Kysapanahalli Methodist Church 10.00
74 Yadagiri Surapura Surapura Japamale Mate Church 6.00
75 Yadagiri Yadagiri Kanigal Methodist Church 10.00
76 Yadagiri Shahapur Shahapur St. Peter Church 10.00
GRAND TOTAL 1484.60

(The author teaches in the Department of Cultural Education, Amrita University, Coimbatore)

First published http://vijayvaani.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?aid=4037