Top Five Myths About Christianity in India


The Indian Christian community is under attack by the radical Hindutva fanatics. The ongoing persecution of Christians in India is on a sharp rise after the Hindu Nationalists took control over India in 2014. A lot of these incidents are the result of a misinformation campaign to vilify the community. In this article, we are going to discuss some of the popular misapprehensions about the Christian community in India.

Myth No. 1: Christianity Was Introduced in India by the Colonizers.

There is an assumption among many people today that there were no Christians in India until the Western missionaries brought the message of Christ to this land of pagans in the 1500s. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Christianity existed in India long before it arrived in Britain.
If we go back in time, around 2,000 years, in Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified, his disciples decided to spread the message of their teacher around the world. One of them was St Thomas, who travelled across the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, and eventually landed at the great Kerala port of Cranganore in ad 52. He preached the message of Jesus Christ, evangelized and built churches along the Malabar Coast and across the Deccan Plateau for nearly two decades, and like many other disciples of Christ he was martyred in ad 72. Those who responded to his message are popularly called St Thomas Christians.
St Thomas Christians of Kerala are one among the earliest practising Christians in the world. Although they no longer come under a single denomination, St Thomas Christians altogether constitute a vibrant religious community. In the 21st Century, they constitute over four million in population.

Myth No. 2: Poor Are Offered Inducements to Convert to Christianity.

The caste system is one of the most malignant social evils that has crippled India for centuries. Unfortunately, discrimination based on caste is practised in India to this day. For centuries, Dalits (people belonging to the lowest caste in India) were denied education, work and social status.
When missionaries came to India, they fed the hungry, taught the children, cared for widows and orphans. Many Dalits heard the message of Christ, accepted the faith and liberated themselves from the shackles of the caste system. They made their own decision to follow the path of Christ. The fiercely orthodox upper-caste Hindus were greatly disturbed and tried to humiliate the Dalits even after they left the Hindu fold.
Today upper-caste Hindutva fanatics often use a derogatory casteist slur “Rice-bag convert” to target Indian Christians. But in reality, why would anyone convert for a bag of rice? Did Hindu society fail to provide a bag of rice to the hungry? Or Did the worth of Hinduism plummet below the price of a rice bag? Surely, this slur insults Hinduism more than the converts themselves.

Myth No. 3: Christianity Is Destroying Indian Culture and Heritage.

There is no other religion in the world that is more culturally diverse than Christianity, and this is not an exaggeration. Christianity is a multicultural religion, it is just amazing to comprehend how people from different parts of the world with linguistic and ethnic differences can unite in the name of Jesus Christ.
Stereotypical representation of Indian Christians in Bollywood movies has created a perception among the general population that the Christian Community follow the Western tradition but in reality, most Indian Christians are just like the rest of the Indians. They speak their local languages, they eat their local food, they wear ethnic clothes, they dance in their local form, they sing their local song, they play their local instrument. Their social practices are similar to their neighbours; for example, most of them go for arranged marriage. They also celebrate different kinds of festivals.
Christianity has not destroyed the Indian culture but adapted to it and made it more beautiful by eradicating the social evils that have existed in India for a long time, like Sati (the immolation of widows on their husbands' funeral pyres), caste system, child marriage, female infanticide, human sacrifice, and many others.

Myth No. 4: Indian Christians Didn't Participate in the Freedom Struggle.

Names of the prominent Indian Christian freedom fighters who actively participated in the freedom struggle is almost absent from our history books. The Christian community is often seen as the ally of the British Raj and therefore in the Hindutva narrative Christians are seen as traitors of India.

Here is a list of some Indian Christians who participated in the freedom struggle:

Kali Charan Banerjee (1847–1907) was a prominent member of the Indian National Congress and was even charged with sedition by the colonial government of Calcutta for taking part in the freedom struggle.

Brahmabandhab Upadhyay (1861–1907) was a theologian, journalist and freedom fighter. His publication Sandhya amplified nationalist ideas and played an important role in the freedom struggle.

George Joseph (1887–1938) was a lawyer and an active participant in Home Rule and Non-Cooperation Movements.

J. C. Kumarappa (1892–1960) was an economist and strong supporter of Satyagraha. Historian Ramachandra Guha calls him “The Green Gandhian,” portraying him as the founder of modern environmentalism in India.

Annie Mascarene (1902–1963) was an Indian freedom fighter and Member of Parliament from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

Theverthundiyil Titus or Titusji (1905–1980) participated in Dandi March or Salt Satyagraha a nonviolent protest led by Mahatma Gandhi in 1930.

Joachim Alva (1907–1979) was a lawyer, journalist and politician who founded the Nationalist Christian Party to draw the Christian community into the freedom struggle.

Accamma Cherian (1909–1982) was popularly known as the “Jhansi ki Rani” of Travancore was a freedom fighter and had been imprisoned twice during her struggle for independence.

Myth No. 5: Missionaries Are Here Only to Convert

This is perhaps the most widespread stereotype about the Christian missionaries in India. Hindutva propagandists have spread this notion that missionaries are here to convert the country.

The goal of a Christian missionary is not only to preach the message of Jesus Christ but also to transform societies. That is the reason why they have built so many schools, colleges, hospitals and orphanages. Some of the finest educational institutions and medical facilities in India are run by missionaries.

As citizens of India, regardless of our religious affiliations, we should be thankful to the missionaries for their contribution to building modern India. Not only they have annihilated social evils like Sati, child marriages, the killing of lepers and the sacrifice of children but also, they have contributed greatly in the development of Indian languages—they produced grammar books, dictionaries, newspapers. They also established the first printing press in Goa and the first vernacular newspaper “Samachar Darpan” in Serampore, West Bengal.


India is a wonderful country, it has rich cultural, religious and ethnic diversity. Everyone has the right to profess, practice and propagate religion to all citizens. The Article 51A of the Indian Constitution mentions the fundamental duties of every citizen which includes “promoting harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities.” As a citizen of India, we should be abide by the Constitution and reject any kind of hateful bigotry. We should always confront these false narratives with the truth. In the end Truth Alone Must Triumph.

Satyamev Jayate

Jai Hind!

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