Monday, November 2, 2009

A Plea to Stop Visiting Temples/Mosques, Part 1

A Plea From India Concerning the Danger of Temple/Mosque Visits

Aloha and greetings from Pune, India. I am writing this blog post with a renewed sense of urgency after my first week of being back in beloved India. One can’t help but be moved and vexed within when walking through this city give over to idols, temples, and masjids(Muslim Mosques) are everywhere. Demons are being frequently and reverently worshipped with great fervor. Indian Hinduism and Islam for that matter is frightening to behold and staggering in terms of how many people are devotees.

A recent trend seems to be catching on in our fellowship that involves taking young people and adult conference goers into Hindu, Jain, and Sikh temples as well as Muslim mosques. The FGBC have begun to do this with vigor and trips are offered as part of the Equip and Momentum conferences in the future. The leaders of this activity in our fellowship even offer to come to your local church and lead visits to these places in your area. In the initial 2007 online articles about this practice among our youth at Momentum, it was clearly mentioned that they were told not to witness as they went to these various sites of pagan worship. One wonders how this can then be termed an “outreach” but the real danger is the actual undertaking and what it involves for our young people and other well-meaning Christians when they decide to venture into a Hindu temple or Muslim mosque. I want to share some vital concerns about why I believe that this practice is a terrible idea for Christians to participate in.

Concerns with Hindu temple visits are based on my missionary experience in India living among Hindus and surrounded by their places of worship in the Mumbai slums and the city of Pune from whence I am writing this post. Here’s what everyone should consider when they enter temple grounds. First, know this. If you remove your shoes, as is the requirement for entry to any Hindu temple worldwide, you are already engaging in a worship ritual laden with significance. The world outside every Hindu temple is actually worshipped as a goddess but the dust of the outside world is considered profane and since it accumulates on the feet of the worshipper, the shoes must be removed as an acknowledgement of the contamination of the outside world and the “holiness” of the sacred ground inside the temple. Shoe removal is not merely for sanitations sake, it is considered the first ritual of worship to whatever god or goddess resides in the temple. Christian, you are already capitulating to a false religion by removing your shoes. One article published online about 2009 Momentums recent temple visits emphasized that fact that this group were “learners of the Hindu faith (with bare feet)”. Is this what we want said of our youth at Momentum?

One may counter that there is no significance to the temple visit if the visitor doesn’t actually believe in the god or goddess inside but I would ask you to understand that the message sent to your Hindu host or temple guide is that you revere the temple site itself as “sacred ground” and have a mutual respect for the worship that happens there. Dear believer, shoe removal to enter the Hindu temple is not only already a participation in part of the purification rites but a bad testimony that sends a message that you agree with your host that their temple is sacred ground. I trust you can already see the compromise I’m referring to here and why I believe it best to not enter Hindu, Jain or Sikh temples.

Concerns with visits to the masjid, or Muslim mosque involve some of the same aspects. Shoe removal also sends the message that you have a respect for the sacredness of Islam and the presence of Allah. A second major issue involves the requirement of Mosque visitors concerning women who MUST wear the hijab or head covering. This is symbolic on two fronts: the submission of a woman to Muslim men and reverence in the presence of Allah. Why would a Christian ever want to participate in this ritual or send the message to unbelievers that there is a mutual respect for their religion? Understand me here, we respect everyone’s right to worship what or who they want BUT we cannot capitulate to those false religions by entering their places of worship and taking part in the rituals they require because they are laden with so much significance and most of this is unknown to those participating in this trend of temple and mosque tourism. It was both concerning and heartbreaking to see pictures posted of young girls at Momentum smiling while wearing hijabs. It sends a wrongful message to be sure and I think this whole thing needs reconsidered.

I have talked to the main leader involved with introducing this practice to the FGBC and my pleas have fallen on deaf ears. My wife, who is an Indian, and a Christian was taken to temples as a child by her Hindu maid and is very familiar with what happens there. She was shocked that Christians in the US were taking tours of these places and many Indian believers can’t ever see a good reason to reenter those places after being saved from the clutches of the demons being worshipped therein. So if you want a third reason that this is a bad idea, take the fact that it could very well stumble brothers and sisters in Christ in India who watch with bewilderment at the church going into these places

A final concern I have with these temple/mosque visits is based on the fact that is very observable here in India. Devotees to the false gods (including Allah) and goddesses, in some cases, experience demonic possession as they engage in their worship. Muslims actually conduct exorcisms on people they believe are controlled by “D’jinn” or evil spirits. Sometimes this happens in the course of Islamic worship and the sight of it leaves no doubt to the discerning Christian that these are demonic occurrences. Similarly and probably more widespread are the definite demonization of Hindu devotees in their temples who sometimes ask for the gods to possess them and demons seem ready to comply. In the awesome book Death of a Guru, the author Rabi Maharaj clearly states the “spiritual oppression” and demonic powers he felt while visiting a temple after his conversion (he went there to see his mother). Being a former guru and Hindu devotee, he knew all too well the danger of demonic powers in places where these evil spirits were being worshipped.

Demonic possession is not something I believe may befall a believer in Jesus Christ but why risk the chance of taking a young person, new believer, or even someone who may be unsaved at one of these conferences directly into the place where these activities are being practiced? I believe that if someone ever gets oppressed severely or even demonized because they are unsaved in one of these temple tour groups, this whole foolish practice will be abandoned.

Dear ones, this concludes part one of my concerns about the FGBC participating in this new trend that I believe both to be unbiblical and spiritually dangerous. I have made the case that their really seems to be no reason to enter these places as the requirements for entry already demand that someone begin to participate in the pagan worship being done there. Shoe removal and hijabs are laden with religious significance and it causes the visitor to already be compromising and capitulating, in a way actually participating in aspects of pagan worship. It sends the wrong message and is a bad testimony to some Indian believers. Finally, demonic forces are at work in these places and it isn’t wise to lead teams of mixed maturities (or young people in the faith) into potentially risky situations.

Please consider these assertions as a plea from the heart of someone whose wife and himself love Indians, Hindu , Muslim, and otherwise and has spent considerable time among them and sadly is all too familiar with some of their worship practices.

Parents please reconsider allowing your young person to participate in this risky experiment.

Pastors, is it really a good thing for your congregation to be entertaining?

Please receive these concerns in the heart and tone in which they are written and stay tune for part two where I will answer some of the objections raised to these concerns.

Feel free to let fly your commentary…


Anonymous said...

Being somewhat close to the situation, I agree with your acessment of the practice. May others use discernment especially in the day of apostasy.

danny2 said...

i agree with your points and pray this article might provide you the opportunity to encounter some "listening ears" from those who determine if this practice will continue.

Steve said...

Danny, thank you so much for reading my concerns on this important issue. i too am wondering what, if anything, would happen to change this course in terms of it's potential danger to our young people.Thanks for your heart for the truth. Steve

Unknown said...

Thank you, Steve, for your thoughtful and caring insights. You have surely given me something to chew on. There are so many things that we need to become aware of as this age closes and the Anti-Christ raises his ugly head!

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid the Satan worshipers used to say "I'm not a Muslim, but I worship Allah."

Unknown said...

Why would any genuine Christian want to purposefully walk into any place that:
1. is a place of congregation for demons and evil spirits;
2. is a place where those demons intentionally afflict and possess people;
3. is a place whose mistaken faith has led its followers straight to hell;
4. glorifies a deity other than our One True God?

I can't see Jesus doing so, and during Paul's visit to Mars Hill, he preached the, there is no scriptural precedent for visiting such a place merely as a cultural tourist.

I question the motive of any Christian doing so, and have repented for the times I have done so.