Pentecostals and other denominations of the Church have been focusing on South India to make it another centre of global Christianity after Rome. So far they have been successful in converting large sections of people in Southern states. Through NGOs and para-Church organisations, Evangelicals have made deep inroads into the demographic landscape of South. Certain Hindu communities in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have got converted en masse into Christianity.
Christian charity and civil society organisations have been found to be pushing the Church agenda. Author Pradip Ninan Thomas, in his book Strong Religion, Zealous Media, writes: “The international Christian mission World Vision that is avowedly involved in the business of development is home to some of the most fundamentalist Christians in India.” Evangelism continues to be the main the focus World Vision.
Chennai is home to several aggressive para-church organisations such as Campus Crusade for Church, Every Home Crusade and Friends Missionary Prayer Band, etc. According to an estimate, Tamil Nadu has witnessed 500 times rise in number of churches in the last one decade. Although the government’s new FCRA regulations have cut down the fund flow to certain Church-sponsored NGOs, they continue to enjoy formidable financial muscle.
To attract poor people, these Christian missionaries organise charismatic and miracle healing sessions. One of the objectives of these Christian groups is to show that Christian god is superior. In Christians and Competing Fundamentalism in South Indian Society, S Bayly writes: “These believers want to reassert their primacy over the rich supernatural terrain of South India with its living pantheons of divinities, warrior heroes, and occult societies. For them Jesus, the Virgin, and the Christian saints must be made known to the wider world as fierce figures of power with the capacity to contend as warriors in the crowded and menacing supernatural landscape of contemporary South India.”
So, in Tamil Nadu, one can find images of Jesus wielding weapons like vel (spear) and bow and arrow.