Compassion International

So many journalism questions remain, about current status of evangelism and missions in India

So many journalism questions remain, about current status of evangelism and missions in India

Why is Compassion International closing its doors (for now) in India?

That was the question at the heart of this week's "Crossroads" podcast (click here to tune that in), which explored some of the themes in my post this week that ran under the headline, "Compassion International and India: The New York Times leaves a UN-shaped hole." I would urge you to click here and read the original Times piece on this topic.

Does the Times piece tell us why Compassion is leaving India? Well, it does and it doesn't. And that is where things get complicated, for readers and listeners who have never worked in a newsroom.

Patience please, as we try to walk through this.

You see, there is evidence in this important Times piece that various officials in India are saying different things. The evidence offered can be interpreted in a number of different ways and it's pretty obvious that the Times team was asking questions that the authorities in the Bharatiya Janata Party didn't want to address. So, as public officials often do, they declined to answer questions.

So what do we know? Let's look at four different options.

(I) At one point, it appears that Compassion is being pushed out because of accusations that its work led to people converting to Christianity. The charity, to use Times language, was suspected of "engaging in religious conversion."

(II) However, at another another point, Compassion officials deny accusations that they are --

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Now that Turkey's kicking out Mercy Corps, is there a God connection to it all?

Now that Turkey's kicking out Mercy Corps, is there a God connection to it all?

Dumping American charities from some of the world’s neediest spots seems to be the in thing for foreign governments to do these days with India deciding to boot Compassion International out of the country. Tmatt covered that yesterday.

But Compassion is not alone. A Portland, Ore.,-based charity called Mercy Corps International, with a staff of 5,000 in 45 countries, is getting the heave-ho from Turkey. Mercy Corps is helping 500,000 displaced Syrians who, as everyone knows, need all the help they can get these days. But the Turks feel otherwise.

Compassion is an openly Christian group; a factor that’s been mentioned in coverage of the ouster. And so was Mercy Corps soon after its founding. 

So, here’s what the Oregonian had to say about it:

A Portland-based humanitarian agency has been forced to shutter its operations in Turkey, affecting lifesaving help for up to 500,000 people each month in neighboring Syria, according to the group.
Mercy Corps used Turkey as a base for what it called "one of the largest humanitarian operations in Syria." It said the Turkish government rescinded its registration to work in the country after five years there.
"Our operations in Syria will continue, and our priority right now is to limit any adverse effects our departure from Turkey may have on the innocent men, women and children who depend on our assistance," the agency said in a statement. "Our sites in Turkey are closed."
The agency has worked in Turkey since 2012 serving 360,000 men, women and children in Syria and about 100,000 in Turkey, said Christine Bragale, spokeswoman. About 200 Turkish staff members will be laid off, most other expatriate staff have left the country, she said. 
Bragale said the agency has not received a reason for the Turkish action. She said a government official told Reuters it's a technical issue related to documentation.

Yeah, right. The Oregonian, of all places, should know Mercy Corps' history but no connections are made.

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Compassion International and India: The New York Times leaves a UN-shaped hole

Compassion International and India: The New York Times leaves a UN-shaped hole

If you have followed news in India in recent years, you know that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party -- commonly known as the BJP -- has continued its efforts to promote "Hindutva," or Hindu-ness, which essentially argues that Hinduism is an essential component of what it means to be a citizen of India.

Thus, it's goal is to defeat secular pluralism and the recognition of a valid role for other faiths in public life. The side effect has, in many cases, been a crackdown on many of the activities of other faiths in India -- especially ministries linked to foreign groups.

Tensions between Muslims and Hindus remain a fact of life. Meanwhile, attacks on Christians -- including a much-publicized gang rape of a 71-year-old nun -- have risen by 20 or 30 percent in recent years.

This brings us to a detailed New York Times report on the latest battle in this conflict, which ran with this headline: "Major Christian Charity Is Closing India Operations Amid a Crackdown."

The key is that officials in India are accusing a major ministry of evangelism, of converting people to Christianity.  What the story never addresses are these questions: As a matter of human rights, do citizens in India have the right to convert to another faith? Do members of one faith have a right to discuss their faith with others? Here is the overture:

NEW DELHI -- India’s crackdown on foreign aid will claim its most prominent casualty this month, as a Colorado-based Christian charity that is one of India’s biggest donors closes its operations here after 48 years, informing tens of thousands of children that they will no longer receive meals, medical care or tuition payments.
The shutdown of the charity, Compassion International, on suspicion of engaging in religious conversion, comes as India, a rising economic power with a swelling spirit of nationalism, curtails the flow of foreign money to activities it deems “detrimental to the national interest.”

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