VHP and United Way (fwd)

Lance Nelson lnelson at pwa.acusd.edu
Mon Oct 31 06:12:11 UTC 1994

I'm forwarding the following forwarded message, FYI.  LN
Lance Nelson                                              Phone: 619/260-4054
Theological & Religious Studies                             FAX: 619/260-2260
University of San Diego                         E-mail: lnelson at pwa.acusd.edu
San Diego, CA 92110-2492                                               U.S.A.

Ms. Jo-Anne Johnson
Campaign Director, AT&T United Way

Dear Ms. Johnson,

	I am unhappy to learn that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) --
"World Hindu Council" -- has established a Donor Choice Agency code with
the United Way, so that United Way donors can direct their tax-deductible
donations to the VHP. The VHP has a well documented record of aggressive
activities to aggravate social conflict in India.  In the guise of an
organization that merely fosters the Hindu culture, the VHP has fostered
religious hate and attacks on Muslims.  The demolition of the Babari
Mosque in Ayodhya, on December 6, 1992, symbolizes the goals and the
results of VHP organizing efforts, which I hate to think are being
supported by the United Way. 

	It is doubtful that the United Way has undertaken the association
with the VHP that is represented by the establishment of a donor choice
agency code with full knowledge of the VHP's activities in India and of
the important role that donations in America play in fomenting religious
conflict in India.  I think it is likely, in fact, that the VHP has
represented itself to the United Way as a purely "cultural organization"
supporting such events as musical concerts and dance performances.  In
India, too, the VHP represents itself as a cultural organization, but in
that guise it propagates a cultural program that describes Muslims as
foreign invaders of India who deserve to be second class citizens if they
are not expelled from the country as potential traitors.  If you are
interested in having more information on the nature of the VHP, I would be
happy to put you in contact with scholars who are specialists on the
subject.  Last summer, I believe, AT&T decided to withdraw an offer for
donations to VHP when the nature of the VHP was clarified. 

	I look forward to hearing from you on this matter.  It is a grave
concern for all of us who respect the integrity of the United Way and work
to make its campus fund-raising campaigns successful. 

	David Ludden
	Chair, Department of South Asia Regional Studies
	University of Pennsylvania


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