Tag Archives: st. thomas christians

Caste system deep-rooted among Christians in India – T.A. Ameerudheen


“Boby Thomas, author of the Malayalam book, A Handbook for Christianity, agreed that caste discrimination was rampant among Christians in the state. ‘Christians in Kerala always pretended to be from the upper castes,’ he said. ‘That is why the Church [clergy] and laity take pride in their mythical Brahminical roots.’” – T.A. Ameerudheen


St. Thomas idol in San Thome Cathedral Basilica, Chennai.

Mor Coorilose with Children


A senior priest from Kerala’s Jacobite Syrian Christian Church recently put the spotlight on the fact that some Christians in the state practice the caste system, when he announced that he would henceforth stay away from traditional family gatherings organised by members of the Church.

In Kerala, some financially sound Syrian Christian families organise annual family meetings, which are attended by prominent priests. The bishop of Niranam Diocese, Geevarghese Mor Coorilos, said that these meetings were organised to “proclaim the artificially cultivated upper-caste identity and lineage” and he would not like to be part of this tradition any more.

On April 9, Mor Coorilos wrote on his Facebook page: “These people believe that their ancestors were Brahmins converted by St. Thomas. They even publish family history books during the get-together. Such baseless upper-caste myths have to be busted. I had attended such events in the past, but not anymore.”

Syrian Christians are one of the world’s oldest Christian communities and trace their origin to St. Thomas, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ. It is believed that St. Thomas visited Kerala during the 1st century CE, and converted members of Brahmin families to Christianity. The Jacobite Church is one of the state’s four main Syrian Christian Churches, with the others being being the Syrian Catholic, Orthodox and Marthoma denominations.

Mor Coorilos’s comments also revived a long-running debate—whether St. Thomas did indeed come to South India himself. Syrian Christians believe that he did, and that they originated from his efforts at evangelism.


Divided Christian Burial Gound: Dalits to the left, caste Christians to the right.


Caste oppression and Christianity

Scholars say that the tendency of some Christians to hark back to their Brahminical lineage indicates that Christianity is not free from the blight of caste.[1] As evidence, they point to the plight of those Dalits who converted to Christianity from Hinduism to escape caste oppression, only to find that things were much the same on the other side.[2]

Caste oppression among Christians in Kerala has led to the formation of many churches meant exclusively for Dalits, said historian Dr Sanal Mohan, visiting fellow in Commonwealth Studies at the University of Cambridge.

A prominent Dalit church is the Prathyaksha Raksha Daiva Sabha, commonly known as PRDS, founded in 1909 by the Dalit activist and poet Poikayil Yohannan. “PRDS was an early movement against caste oppression,” said Mohan. “The World Evangelical Mission, CMS Anglican Church, Salvation Army are some of the exclusive Dalit churches formed later.”


George Cardinal Alencherry


Mohan said neither the Church nor its members have addressed the problem of caste among Christians in India. He pointed to a casteist taunt made by independent MLA P.C. George in March against a Dalit Catholic priest who took a stand against George Alencherry, cardinal of the Syro-Malabar Church, in a row over the controversial sale of church land in Kochi. George, who represents the Christian-dominated Assembly constituency of Poonjar in Idukki district, had called the priest an illegitimate son of a Pulaya (a Dalit community) woman who could not be called a Catholic. “It [the comments] showed the mentality of upper-caste Christians in Kerala,” said Mohan. “What shocked more was that the taunt did not elicit angry reactions from Dalit priests.”

Boby Thomas, author of the Malayalam book, A Handbook for Christianity, agreed that caste discrimination was rampant among Christians in the state. “Christians in Kerala always pretended to be from the upper castes,” he said. “That is why the Church [clergy] and laity take pride in their mythical Brahminical roots.”

Dalit Christians demonstrate against caste discrimination in the Church

Dalit Christians in Tamil Nadu

It is not just Kerala. The plight of Dalit Christians in neighbouring Tamil Nadu is similar, if not worse.

Earlier this month, the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front published a damning report that exposed discrimination by Christians against their Dalit brethren in the state.

The report said that the practice of caste is prevalent in the formation of parishes (an administrative district headed by a parish priest) and seen in the construction of separate chapels in the same village for Dalits and other caste Christians. Discrimination is also evident in the denial of opportunities for Dalit Christians in the parish administration, as well as in jobs and the priesthood.

Antonysami Marx, a Dalit activist and writer, said the Church could not find a solution to the caste issue. “Dalit Christians have been facing discrimination at the hands of rich Christians from mainly Vanniayar and Nadar communities [in Tamil Nadu],” he said.

According to the 2011 census, Christians form 6.1% of Tamil Nadu’s population. In absolute numbers, Christians are a 44 lakh-member strong community in the state. “Dalits constitute 70% of the Christians in the state,” said Marx. “They converted from Hinduism to escape the clutches of caste, but ended up being in the same situation.”

Marx said Dalit Christian students were also denied admissions in schools and colleges run by the Church. “Untouchability and social boycott are prevalent here,” he said. “The church has even allotted separate graveyards for Dalits.”

He said the Church was reluctant to address the caste issue. “They say that there is no caste in Christianity, and they are turning a blind eye to the situation in Tamil Nadu.”[3]


Dr M.S.G. Narayanan


Reviving a long-running debate

Referring to the debate that the bishop’s comments sparked about whether St Thomas had indeed come to South India, historian M.G.S. Narayanan, who has done extensive research on the subject, said Brahmins were not present in Kerala during the first century, when St. Thomas was believed to have arrived. “There is no historical evidence to suggest that St. Thomas came to Kerala during that time [either],” said Narayanan.

This is a point that Boby Thomas also makes. “Brahmins began to migrate to Kerala between the sixth and eighth centuries and they became a dominant force only between the 10th and 12th centuries,” he said.[4]

Mohan pointed to another common belief that did not stand scrutiny—that St Thomas brought the cross—the best-known symbol of Christianity—to Kerala. “Historical evidence shows us that the Holy Cross was not an object of veneration in the first century,” he said. “Historians might have made these stories from hindsight, but they cannot be accepted unless they are supported by evidence.”[5]

The Syro-Malabar Church, the second largest Eastern Catholic Church in the world, which claims St. Thomas as its founder, distanced itself from Mor Coorilos’s statement and said that historical evidence proved that the apostle had indeed come to Kerala. Senior priest Father Sebastian Vaniyappurackal said in a statement: “The Syro-Malabara Church was founded following the gospels of St. Thomas. Only a few people contest this fact.” The Church was forced to issue this statement after a former spokesperson of the Church, Father Paul Thelakkat, claimed that there was no evidence to prove that St Thomas had visited Kerala.


Prof Susan Viswanathan


Sociologist Susan Viswanathan, a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, who has written a book titled, The Christians of Kerala, agreed that it was hard to prove conclusively whether St. Thomas visited Kerala. “Whether they were Brahmins or not in the first century is a puzzle as is the question as to St. Thomas coming to Kerala,” she said.

But she also pointed out that St. Thomas Christians—another name for Syrian Christians—have used their upper caste status through history to remain close to power.[6][7][8] “Legends have their own emphases on probability rather than certainty,” she said. “These [Syrian] Christians are patrilocal and patrilineal like the Brahmins they claim descent from.” – Scroll.in, 20 April 2018

References (added by Ishwar Sharan)

1. Bishop Giovanni dei Marignolli, a Franciscan friar from Florence, had baptised some Syrian Christians and lower caste Hindus in the year 1348, in Quilon (Kollam), and built a Roman Catholic church there. Historically, he is the first person on record to use the appellation “St. Thomas Christians”. He did this to distinguish the Syrian Christians in his congregation from the Hindu converts.

2. Far from abolishing caste, the Church allowed caste distinctions to continue within its own structure and functioning. Pope Gregory XV (r. 1621-1623) formally sanctioned caste divisions in the Indian Church. This papal bull confirmed earlier decisions of the local Church hierarchy in 1599 and 1606. These Church edicts have never been rescinded and there are still separate church doors and pews, separate priests, and separate graveyards for lower caste Christians in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

3. There has always been caste-like divisions within Christianity and they originate in the Bible itself. Read St. Paul on slavery see Ephesians 6:5-9, Colossians 3:22-25 and 4:1, 1 Timothy 6:1-2, and Philemon. See also 1 Peter 2:18-25, which begins: “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the forward.”

4. According to the Namboodiri Brahmins themselves, they are the original Vedic Brahmins of Kerala. However, there is no historical record to support this claim. Marxist historians assert that Namboodiris arrived in Kerala only in the sixth or seventh century, though there is a record for Mezhathol Agnihothri (b. 342 CE), the Namboodiri who revived the Vedic shrauta traditions in Kerala in the fourth century CE. Therefore, we may infer that the Namboodiri community may have included Syrian Christian immigrants who had converted to Vedic Hinduism. The claim that St. Thomas converted four Namboodiri families to Christianity was invented by Syrian Christians to give themselves caste status. Judas Thomas would not have called himself a Christian; he was a practising Jew who would neither build churches nor carve crosses―the latter being abhorrent to his cultural sensibilities and not used as a Christian identity symbol until after the third century. The designation “Christian” was first used for St. Paul’s converts in Antioch after 45 CE.

5. Rev. C.E. Abraham, in an article in The Cultural Heritage of India, writes, “The Persian crosses—or so-called Thomas crosses—with inscriptions in Pahlavi, one found in St. Thomas Mount, Madras, and two in a church in Kottayam in Travancore, are evidence of the connection of the Malabar Church with the Church of Persia.” The crosses are dated to the seventh and eighth centuries CE.

The Pahlavi (Persian) inscription on the three stone crosses, two in Kerala and one on St. Thomas Mount, read (according to C.P.T. Winckworth whose translation is generally accepted): “My lord Christ, have mercy upon Afras, son of Chaharbukht the Syrian, who cut this.”

6. The first Christians to emigrate to India came in 345 CE. They landed at Cranganore in Malabar, then the ancient port of Muziris on the mouth of the Periyar River where it joined the Arabian Sea. They were four hundred refugees from Babylon and Nineveh, then part of the Parthian (Persian) Empire, belonging to seven tribes and seventy-two families. They were fleeing religious persecution under the Persian king Shapur II. He had driven them out of Syria and Mesopotamia because he considered them a state liability. Rome, Persia’s arch enemy, had begun to Christianise under Constantine, and Shapur had come to suspect the allegiances of his Christian subjects.

7. The Syrian refugees were led by a semi-legendary figure who is known to history variously as Thomas of Cana, Thomas the Merchant, Thomas the Canaanite, Thomas of Jerusalem, Thomas Cananeus or Cannaneo, and Knai Thoma. Nothing is known about him and his companion Bishop Joseph of Edessa except their names, and this migration of Christians also cannot be treated as verified historical fact. “No deeds of copper plates in the name of Thomas of Cana are now extant,” writes, C.B. Firth in An Introduction to Indian Church History, “… [and] it would be rash to insist upon all the details of the story of Thomas the Merchant as history. Nevertheless, the main point―the settlement in Malabar of a considerable colony of Syrians―may well be true.”

8. The Encyclopaedia Britannica, in its article on the Christians of Saint Thomas, says, “The origins of the so-called Malabar Christians is uncertain, though they seem to have been in existence before the 6th century AD and probably derive from the missionary activity of the East Syrian (Nestorian) Church centred at Ctesiphon. Despite their geographical isolation, they retained the Chaldean liturgy and Syriac language and maintained fraternal ties with the Babylonian (Baghdad) patriarchate.”


Christian Fish Symbol


St. Thomas and Caste – Ishwar Sharan


The exploitation of the Christian faithful by the Christian clergy has been going on from the very beginning. St. Paul returned the runaway slave Onesimus to his Christian owner Philemon of Colosse in Phrygia—the Epistle of Paul to Philemon being the covering letter he sent with him—and St. Thomas is depicted in art with two slaves, two lions and a cloak of peacock feathers—hardly an image of a servant of the poor! — Ishwar Sharan


Paul & Onesimus


In his article “In Memory of a Slain Saint”, C.A. Simon wrote, “St. Thomas spent the last part of his life in Madras preaching the Gospel. A large number of people listened and embraced the way of life preached by him. The oppressed and downtrodden followed him and claimed equal status in society as it was denied them by prevailing social norms. He condemned untouchability and attempted to restore equal status to women.”

This stereotyped and oft-times-proven untrue description of ancient Hindu society has been promoted by Christians for centuries. By repeating it C.A. Simon shows that his interest in writing the article is not “purely academic”. He is championing a cause, and he has presented St. Thomas as the champion and pioneer of a cause—Liberation Theology.

This new role for St. Thomas is absurd, and whatever the merits of the new ideology—and they are doubtful—neither Jesus nor his brother Judas Thomas can be presented as champions of the oppressed and downtrodden if we are to believe the Acts of Thomas. Its first verses record that Thomas was sold into slavery by the very Jesus whose “message of liberation” he is supposed to have brought to India. The Acts then describe how he enslaves the aristocratic women he converts and destroys their families. Finally we learn that this is the reason that King Mazdai of Parthia has him executed—and it is a good reason.

C.A. Simon seems not to have read the Acts of Thomas or heard the traditional Syrian Christian version of the apostle’s “good works” in India. In one of these tales St. Thomas only accepts Brahmins into his new creed—with the curious exception of one barber convert. This isolated soul is never given a place in the Christian community even during the apostle’s lifetime, and to present St. Thomas as a champion of the poor is ironical, even grotesque—but then Liberation Theology itself is proving to be just another means by which the Church can further exploit the faithful.

Indeed, the exploitation of the faithful has been going on from the very beginning. St. Paul returned the runaway slave Onesimus to his rightful owner Philemon—the Epistle of Paul to Philemon being the covering letter he sent with him—and St. Thomas is depicted in art with two slaves, two lions and a cloak of peacock feathers—hardly an image of a servant of the poor!


Divided Christian Burial Gound: Dalits to the left, caste Christians to the right.


Today the number of lower caste converts to Christianity is myriad and they are no more accepted by their upper caste brethren than was their mythical first century barber ancestor. The plain truth is that the Churches of India are riddled with caste and to highlight this situation, Scheduled Caste Christians demonstrated against the untouchability practised in the Church when Pope John Paul II visited India in 1986. They probably did not know that Pope Gregory XV (1621-1623) had sanctioned caste within the Indian Church and that his edict has never been rescinded. Earlier in 1599 the Council of Diamper and again in 1606 the Council of Goa had sanctioned the same. These sanctions have governed Catholic practice ever since—though Christians piously maintain that caste is contrary to Christ’s teachings.

The grievances of Scheduled Caste Christians remain to this day and often surface in the national press—to the embarrassment of wealthy bishops who have interests to protect other than those of their flock. This happened in July and August of 1990 in the columns of the Indian Express. On August 2nd a letter appeared by Raju Thomas of Madras. He held M.A., B.Th., B.D. and M.Th. degrees, and wrote:

No self-respecting Scheduled Caste Christians will ask the Government to include them in the Scheduled Caste list. Is it not shameful for the Indian Church, even after centuries of Christian tradition, to say that it has a vast majority of untouchable Christians?

I myself come from a state where Christianity reached in the first century itself before it went to Europe, and that state, Kerala, the highly literate state in India, has more than 35 lakh untouchable Christians out of a total population of 51 lakh Christians. But these majority Scheduled Caste Christians do not have any voice in the Church administration and in the ecclesiastical structure.

The Christian population of India is just 3 per cent out of the 800 million total population of India, and 85 per cent of the Christians are from the Scheduled Casts and Scheduled Tribes. The Scheduled Caste Christians, instead of asking for reservation on par with the Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist Scheduled Castes, should demand that the Indian Church implement reservation first in their home itself. Charity should begin at home!

The Indian Christian Church has the best educational, technical and medical institutions in the country and it is unfortunate that the presence of the untouchable Christians in these prestigious institutions is worse than anywhere else. Why is the Indian Church blind to this brutal injustice and discrimination committed to its own family members?

While the Indian Church enjoys the minority rights guaranteed in the Constitution it violates the legitimate human rights of Dalit Christians. Instead of begging the Government, the Church must render justice to her own—least brothers and sisters—by sharing power and wealth with Scheduled Caste Christians in proportion to their population.[1] The Church must respond to the cries of the Dalit Christians.

Once justice is established at home the Church can put pressure on the Government of India to get the Constitution amended to help Scheduled Caste Christians to get the constitutional rights enjoyed by their Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist counterparts.

This letter—in places self-contradictive—shows an insensitivity to the position of Hindus and ignores the financial privileges enjoyed by the Church. Christian religious and educational institutions are fully autonomous and collect large foreign donations, unlike their Hindu counterparts which must accept state-controlled administrations and finance. That these foreign moneys collected in the name of the Scheduled Castes almost never reach the Scheduled Castes, is the cause of on-going scandal in churches of every denomination.


The New Indian Express Masthead


We did not comment on these issues in our reply to Raju Thomas. We had observed over the years that the Indian Express while permitting Christians to lecture Hindus in its columns, did not permit Hindus to comment on what it deemed to be Christian matters. But we did take issue with the assertion that Christianity had reached Kerala in the first century C.E. as this was a matter of Indian history. The Indian Express now had two copies of our reply to C.A. Simon’s feature which it had declined to publish even in summary, as well as Swami Tapasyananda’s article which it had simply ignored. There was no excuse for the Indian Express letters editor to allow Raju Thomas his claim unless he wished to provoke a response. We responded on August 3rd:

Mr. Raju Thomas may assert that he comes from an Indian state where Christianity was established in the first century C.E. (I.E. Aug. 2), but he must know that his claim has never been substantiated in history. Even the generous K.S. Latourette, in A History of the Expansion of Christianity, does not allow the possibility of Christians coming to India by any route before the third century C.E.

The consensus among most historians who do not have a theological axe to grind, is that the first Christians to arrive in India, landing at Cranganore, Kerala, came in 345 C.E. They were four hundred refugees belonging to seven tribes of West Asia, who were fleeing religious persecution by the Persian Shapor II. Their leader was a Syrian who is known to history as Knae Thomman, Thomas Cananeus, Thomas of Cana, or Thomas the Merchant. It is probably this man whom the Syrian Christians later converted into the first century apostle-martyr St. Thomas.

Though the myth of St. Thomas coming to Kerala in 52 C.E. was invented by Syrian Christians, it was resurrected and embellished in the sixteenth century by Jesuit and Franciscan missionaries who needed a pious story of persecution to cover up their own persecution of the Hindus. During this period they and their Portuguese masters destroyed the great Shiva temple on the Mylapore beach, the Murugan temple on Little Mount and the Shiva temple on Big Mount, and built Christian churches on the ruins.

The Roman Catholic Church continues to promote this vicious tale as part of her ancient effort to vilify Hindus and malign Hinduism—and, of course, to support her religious and political claims to India. Those interested in the ongoing campaign may refer to an excellent article by Swami Tapasyananda called “The Legend of a Slain Saint to Stain Hinduism’ in the recent June issue of The Vedanta Kesari published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Madras 600004.

This letter was not published in the Indian Express but a copy of it had been sent to Raju Thomas. He replied on August 31st:

Thank you for the copy of your letter to the editor, Indian Express, Madras, dated 3 August 1990. I have been expecting that that letter would be published in the columns of the Indian Express. But so far it is not being published.

I have already posted a long letter on this issue as many people have come forward with the same question about the existing of Christianity in the first century in the Indian subcontinent.

Yes, Mr. Ishwar Sharan, I too agree with your views that Christianity did not exist in the first century in the Indian subcontinent. It is only a traditional belief that St. Thomas had come to India and converted the Brahmins to Christianity but this claim does not have any historical proof. However, this traditional belief of the Christians in Kerala is so deep-rooted that they relentlessly go on propagating it.

You may ask me if such is the case, why did I too assert that Christianity had come to India before it had reached Europe? My answer to this question is that I deliberately wanted an open debate and discussion on this subject. But except a few nobody has come with challenging theories or written in the Indian Express. But why? We will be able to challenge and question such falsified histories and traditional beliefs only when we take up such issues to the public and do not keep them as the top secrets. But the question is: How many of our ‘intellectuals’ are ready to have open-minded debates and discussions? Our sole aim is to eat, drink, make money and enjoy. This is the Indian reality. How many of us take up discussion on issues? We are concerned about the pension, non-supply of water, not getting facilities in the buses and trains, etc. Is this what a healthy society is to think and debate? I do not know.

I also agree with your opinion about the historicity of the Thomas Christians in Kerala in ancient Cheranadu. I also have some if not full soft corner towards your argument: “… this man whom the Syrian Christians later converted into the first century apostle-martyr St. Thomas.” I am sure provided much light is shed on this argument the truth will certainly come out.

Do you know the real story of these Jerusalem Christians who had come to Kerala? Today their total number is 1,60,000 and 1 lakh within the Roman Catholic Church and 60 thousand in the Jacobite Church. It is also unfortunate that these Christians (?) do not maintain any kind of relationship with other Christians in India, no marital relationship, not giving baptism to non-Knaya Christians in their church, not allowing Dalit Christians in their houses, etc. They want to keep up the purity of their blood. In fact they are the worst enemies of the Dalits in Kerala.

Your other remarks on the Franciscans and the Jesuits, etc., have to be seriously studied. I am interested in this kind of research works. But do we have sufficient documents? I am very much enthusiastic to get that article, “The Legend of a Slain Saint to Stain Hinduism” by Swami Tapasyananda, published in The Vedanta Kesari. Would you help me to get one copy of this?

Thank you for writing to me. I welcome more enlightenment in these matters. I do not know whether the Indian Express will publish my letter which is a lengthy one.

The Indian Express did not publish Raju Thomas’s letter even in an edited form, as it had not published ours. The Indian Express did not approve of “issues” in its precious columns—especially as they were not perceived by the experts to add prestige or profits to the newspaper’s already overflowing coffers. These were the “principles of publishing” followed by most big post-independence Hindu newspaper publishers. It was not that nobody has come with challenging theories or written to the Indian Express as Raju Thomas thought, but rather that they weren’t published after numerous submissions. We replied to Raju Thomas on September 5th:

Thank you for the letter dated August 31st.

You will have received by now Swami Tapasyananda’s article. He had originally submitted it to the Indian Express. They ignored it. After waiting three months he published the article in his own magazine.

I, too, submitted an essay debunking the myth of St. Thomas to the Indian Express in March. It was a reply to C.A. Simon’s article which appeared in the Express Weekend last December. My submission was also ignored for months. Finally the IE resident editor rejected it in June with the lame excuse that he had no space and that I had already had my say in a letter published in the Express Weekend.

My latest letter replying to your statement on St. Thomas, is only one of many sent to the Indian Express over the last eight months. Many others have written also and I have copies of their letters. None of these letters have been published. I am sure that your letter will also not be published. My long experience is that the Indian Express only publishes material promoting the myth of St. Thomas as true Madras history (excepting for the three edited letters which appeared in the Express Weekend early this year).

The Indian Express consistently suppresses all material, no matter how well documented, that shows up this political tale for what it really is.

So you see, Mr. Thomas, the “fearless Jesuits” in that editorial office are no different from your priests and our politicians. They are full of grand rhetoric and promises of salvation which it does not cost them anything to make. But the moment they perceive that the truth threatens their bank accounts and official positions, they are utterly ruthless in suppressing it and the persons who speak it. Gandhiji once said that it was cowardice that was the threat to our nation, not poverty. I believe he was right — again!

As it is, I am blacklisted at the Indian Express offices and none of my letters are published any longer. This will please many of their Christian readers, for I am a long-time student of Christian history and a critic of Church politics and ideology.

This should not be misunderstood to mean that I am hostile to Christians of faith. This is not the case at all. In fact I see the Christian layman as the first victim of Church politics. This is why I firmly believe that Christians activists like yourself must go to the Church for redress of your grievances before you go to the Government. To go to the Government is to let the Church off the hook. Why do that? What has the Church done for you really? The whole edifice of the Church is built on the emotional, psychological and material exploitation of the poor and ignorant.

You know better than I do that the Church has vast quantities of foreign money meant for the poor which never reaches the poor. You also know that caste is fully sanctioned within the Church. So-called saints like Francis Xavier, John de Britto and Robert de Nobili all practiced untouchability—not to mention the fabled St. Thomas! There is one—perhaps two—papal bulls sanctioning caste divisions in churches and social relations. And there are the edicts of the Council of Diamper which sanction the same. To argue that caste is un-Christian is really beside the point.

But to return to the original subject of this letter. My essay called The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Templeis in the press but its publication has got delayed. It will be out in a month or so and I will send you a copy.[2] You will discover that I make no statement and draw no inference that I cannot document.

I am very happy that you have written to the Indian Express about this issue. And I am sorry that your letter will not get published. But because it will not be published I would very much like to have a copy of it, if you would kindly send me one. I continue my study of this myth and am always eager for new references and points of view.

Raju Thomas did eventually send us a copy of his lengthy letter. It is a bitter indictment of the Roman Catholic Church and Church of South India for the discriminatory treatment that they have meted out to their Scheduled Caste converts. We do not include it here because it repeats in detail what he had already written to us on August 31st. But the Indian Express should have at least published edited portions of it including his retraction of the claim that St. Thomas had come to India. In the letter he quotes Jesus in the Gospel of Mathew 23:15 which applies as much to campaigning secular journalists as it does to Christian missionaries:

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.


1. Pope John Paul II has reaffirmed that the Church is an autocracy not a democracy—and that he is the present autocrat.

2. The reference is to the first edition of this book which was published in February 1991. The observations made here about the editorial policy of the Madras edition of the Indian Express are as true today—June  2010—as at the time of writing the letter in September 1990.