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HomeFact CheckNo, Christians Did Not Convert Tamil Nadu Temple Into Church, Viral Claim...

No, Christians Did Not Convert Tamil Nadu Temple Into Church, Viral Claim Is False

Authors

Kushel HM is a mechanical engineer-turned-journalist, who loves all things football, tennis and films. He was with the news desk at the Hindustan Times, Mumbai, before joining Newschecker.

Pankaj Menon is a fact-checker based out of Delhi who enjoys ‘digital sleuthing’ and calling out misinformation. He has completed his MA in International Relations from Madras University and has worked with organisations like NDTV, Times Now and Deccan Chronicle online in the past.

Claim

Christians occupied an old temple at Adhiyaman in Ramanathapuram, Tamil Nadu, and converted it into a church. 

 The archived version of the tweet can be seen here.

Fact

Newschecker ran a keyword search for “Ramanathapuram temple converted church,” which did not lead us to any credible news reports about such an incident.

We then ran a reverse image search, which led us to this Facebook post, uploaded by Rajan’s Ministry Updates, dated October 9, 2013, with the caption reading, “Church modelled in Indian style!” The comments stated that it is a church in Courtallam, which is in Tenkasi district of Tamil Nadu.

A further search led us to similar photos in this Facebook album, titled (National Missionary Society of India) NMSI’s Christukula Ashram @ Courtallam, confirming it is the same structure.

We learnt that the NMSI, founded in 1905, has two retreat centres, called ashrams, in Tiruppathur and Courtallam, endowed with churches that have ancient architectural structures, which indicates why it resembles a temple. Newschecker came across this write-up on a Facebook page, India History, about these churches.

“A church which looks like a Dravidian temple. This is the church constructed by the Christukula Ashram, Tirupattur, North Arcot, Tamil Nadu. Set up under the influence of Sadhu Sunder Singh, a missionary from Shimla/Subathu, who wore saffron robes while doing his mission work. Sunder Singh was born a Sikh at a village in Ludhiana district. He converted to Christianity while a teenager… the Christian Ashram movement which married Vedantic teachings with those of Christianity and took on the form of Hindu religious practices, making them practically indistinguishable from local Hinduism while owing ultimate allegiance to Christianity…The Church at Tirupattur is indistinguishable from temples in the neighbourhood except for the cross that adorns the top,” read the post.

Newschecker then got in touch with Henry Richard, in-charge of NMSI ashrams, who confirmed that the structure is a Dravidian-model church. “Our founders loved the indigenous way of worship and wherever they had ashrams, they incorporated that style. It is not a temple that is converted, but a Christian church made in the indigenous model. The local police, too, have enquired a few months ago and confirmed that it is a church modelled in the Dravidian style,” he said.

Also Read: Kangana Ranaut Slap Row: Suspended CISF Constable Reinstated And Posted In Bengaluru? Viral Claim Is False

Result: False

Source
NMSI website
Conversation with Henry Richard, in-charge of NMSI ashram


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Authors

Kushel HM is a mechanical engineer-turned-journalist, who loves all things football, tennis and films. He was with the news desk at the Hindustan Times, Mumbai, before joining Newschecker.

Pankaj Menon is a fact-checker based out of Delhi who enjoys ‘digital sleuthing’ and calling out misinformation. He has completed his MA in International Relations from Madras University and has worked with organisations like NDTV, Times Now and Deccan Chronicle online in the past.

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