The company I work for was founded by three deeply religious individuals. It was started in the US, where I was employed for 10 years, and now I am a manager in the Chennai branch that opened a few years ago. It’s a small company. Other than myself, I have a managing director above me here in Chennai.
Our US bosses sent us a powerpoint of their 2008 overview and goals for the company. One of the things that stood out to me was the vision for the company:
“To empower and … through the consistent blend of innovative technology, business excellence, and biblical values of honesty, integrity, accountability, and serving one another.”
Knowing who wrote it, the reference to the Bible was expected. However, I think this kind of reference would have been more acceptable in the US than here. Some people would have privately complained, but that’s about it. It’s almost fashionable to be Christian in the US. In India, it’s not quite the same. Hinduism itself is a very accepting religion, but many people don’t appreciate the religious message being sent.
Anyway, that’s not the point I wanted to make. My managing director, also a Christian, had an enlightening perspective on this. His problem wasn’t so much that people would take offense but more so that this is an underlying problem in Christianity. As he put it, “How would Christians take it if it had said ‘Koranic’ or ‘Vedic’ values?” That’s an easy answer. We would have labeled the managers and the company as religious fundamentalist. A long time ago, Christian Protestants broke away from the Christian fundamentalists in Europe. Since then, there have been many spinoffs of fundamentalist groups. However, lately Christians have always been able to avoid that label, unless of course you’re protesting the funeral’s of US soldiers who died in Iraq. But his point is well taken.
He’s actually an elder at his church, a relatively traditional (i.e. fundamentalist) church, but he went on to tell me about an article he wrote in his church magazine. He used to work for a boss who was Christian. His boss didn’t profess his Christianity in this manner. He would just act in a way that was accountable for his actions. Everyone admired and respected him. One day, the company was bought out by a group with predominantly Hindu Brahmin leaders. Everyone was sure that this Christian would be forced to leave. After a few weeks, the Brahmin manager held a meeting in which all the subordinate managers were invited. In that meeting, he stood next to this Christian and said, “No one has to worry, this man is not going anywhere. He did a great job before I got here, and I have confidence he will continue to do a great job.” Everyone was relieved, but the Brahmin was not done yet. Looking the audience in the eye, he put his arm around the Christian and proclaimed, “This is a true Christian.” The crowd was in shock. Why would a devout Brahmin even make such a proclamation?
This “true” Christian was able to affect the Brahmin in such a way that the Brahmin was promoting Christianity. No self proclamation or labeling was necessary.
Having deeply studied both Hinduism and Christianity, Gandhi was once asked why he was not a Christian. His response was:
“I have ventured at several missionary meetings to tell English and American missionaries that if they could have refrained from ‘telling’ India about Christ and had merely lived the life enjoined upon them by the Sermon on the Mount, India, instead of suspecting them, would have appreciated their living in the midst of her children and directly profited by their presence. Holding this view, I can ‘tell’ American friends nothing about ‘Hinduism’ by way of ‘return’. I do not believe in telling others of their faith, especially with a view to conversion. Faith does not admit of telling. It has to be lived and then it becomes self-propagating.”
When I see a statement like the one stated in the vision above, I imagine asking the author why they would include it. And the only response I can see coming from the author is “Otherwise, how will they know that we are Christian?” And that is the point.