[A Missionary Demand]
Theosophist, May, 1881
The Bombay Guardian, an organ of the Methodist sect, recently expressed in strong terms the decided opinion that the Government of India should “demand of the Native Governments that they shall cease from the injustice” of interfering with men’s “convictions in the matter of religion”; affirming that the former did not do so. Its strictures were in this instance specially directed against the action of H. H. the Holkar, in banishing from Indore all Christian colporteurs and converts. If this is not an appeal for the protection of Christian propagandism by armed intervention—for the interference of the Paramount Power, even by remonstrance, is simply that—then we must be very obtuse in perception. The Guardian virtually begs that the Viceroy shall hold the Maharaja vi et armis [“by force and arms”], while the missionaries run through Indore and lead into apostacy as many as they can. No wonder His Highness should wish to keep Christianity out of his territory as long as possible, when he can see how it has demoralized its converts in the Presidencies; causing brothels and drinking shops to spring up like mushrooms, and making the name of Native Christian in many places synonymous with all that is bad. What, we wonder, would the Guardian say if the shoe were on the other foot and Europeans were being converted “by trick and device” to idolatry? Does it recollect how one such “convert”—an English Captain [Seymour]—was treated some years back; how he was bundled off twice home as a lunatic so as to destroy, if possible, the effect of his example? The mission-house, gentlemen, is a glass house, and the fewer stones its occupants throw while still in India, the better. You had better leave the Holkar alone—unless you court troubles. You are here only on sufferance. The Government has not yet forgotten what share of the Mutiny it owes to the missionary editors of the Friend of India, who also clamoured for protection to missionary interests. The later instance of the Zulu War is fresh, and the goings-on of the flogging missionaries of Blantyre fresher still in the public mind. The Editor of the Guardian is a respected, good, and devoted man, though a missionary; like ourselves he is, we believe, an alien. If he would but reflect a moment he would see that if he is a well-wisher of the Government of India, and would avoid throwing any heavier burdens upon its already over-burdened hands, he ought to abstain from such expressions as those above cited, which plainly tend to stir up discontent and breed perhaps bloody disturbances among a naturally docile and loyal people, passionately devoted to their ancestral religions and intolerant of Governmental interference with the same.