Gandhi's Unjust Criticism

This is an "extra" post. It's not a 1-minute read. It will take you 3-5 minutes. I wrote it because Christians are facing greater and greater persecution, and we need to understand valid criticism versus bigotry.

This famous Gandhi quote is neither honest nor just. In fact, it's incredibly hypocritical.

Let me start by saying that Gandhi did some very good things in his lifetime, but his criticism of Christians is hypocritical and unjust.

There is a story about Gandhi that I've heard repeatedly. I'm sure that many of you have heard it as well.

According to numerous sources, Gandhi was interested in learning more about Jesus, but he was refused admittance to a particular church that was only for high caste Indians and whites. 

“He was turned off by the sin of segregation” and said, “If it weren’t for Christians, I’d be a Christian.” (source)

It’s abhorrent that a Christian church would follow the caste system, but Hinduism created the caste system. So it's quite hypocritical that Gandhi, a life-long Hindu, would judge Christians for using it.

"Manusmriti, widely regarded to be the most important and authoritative book on Hindu law and dating back to at least 1,000 years before Christ was born, 'acknowledges and justifies the caste system as the basis of order and regularity of society'." (source)

In an interview Gandhi was asked how he felt about the Hindu origin of the caste system and he excused it saying, “Do not take men's imperfect interpretation, as you see it, for the real teaching of any great faith.” (source)  

He excused Hinduism for creating the caste system, but he rejected Christianity because a Christian church used it. That's pretty extreme hypocrisy.

But the greatest error in this story is the belief that Gandhi or anyone else might have become a Christian were it not for bad Christian examples.

If Gandhi actually rejected beliefs based on bad examples, he would have rejected every faith including atheism and Hinduism. 

Bad examples may impact our search for faith, but anyone who rejects Christianity is rejecting Christ, not Christians. Please read "Thank you that I'm not like other people" to better understand this common excuse for rejecting the gospel.

Furthermore, when Gandhi was asked about Christianity in a recorded interview, he did not claim that he rejected it because of the poor example of Christians. He said it was because all religions worship the same God. 

Interview transcript in Gandhi's own words (source)

Beginning of quoted material:

Gandhi: I did once seriously think of embracing the Christian faith. The gentle figure of Christ, so full of forgiveness that he taught his followers not to retaliate when abused or struck, but to turn the other cheek - I thought it was a beautiful example of the perfect man. 

Millie: But you did not embrace Christianity did you? 

Gandhi: No. I studied your scriptures for some time and thought earnestly about them. I was tremendously attracted to Christianity; but eventually I came to the conclusion that there was nothing really in your scriptures that we had not got in ours, and that to be a good Hindu also meant I would be a good Christian...If a man reaches the heart of his own religion, he has reached the heart of the others too. There is only one God, and there are many paths to him...Hinduism teaches the same great truth, and Mohamedanism and Zoroastrianism, too. 

End of quoted material

This is either a dishonest excuse or an extremely uneducated one. Anyone who has studied different faiths knows they are completely incompatible with vastly different ideas about God's character and purposes. For more on this, see Why Muslims Can't Believe Jesus was a Prophet, Can All Religions Coexist? and Jesus is Who the Bible Says He Is.

Gandhi's Bigotry and Sexual Perversion

This famous Gandhi quote is neither honest nor just. In fact, it's incredibly hypocritical as was much of Gandhi's life.

As I said at the beginning, we can appreciate the good things Gandhi did for India, but he is not a valid critic of Christianity or Christians.

Here are a few examples of strange, hypocritical, and ungodly behavior:

It is well documented that Gandhi carried on ungodly sexual practices. He claimed that celibacy was godly, but he regularly bathed and slept with naked women and young girls as part of his religious rituals and “experiments.” (source)

He was obsessed with bowel movements and diet. (source)

He refused to let his wife have the “alien medicine” (penicillin) that would have saved her life from pneumonia. Shortly after she died, he took the “alien medicine” quinine to cure his malaria. (source)

Gandhi “believed menstruation was a manifestation of the distortion of a woman's soul by her sexuality. (source)

Known as a person who fought bigotry, he actually participated in it while in South Africa: 

“While the movie [Gandhi] accurately depicts Gandhi's successful organization of Indians in South Africa against the state's apartheid laws, it skirts a key issue: what about the Africans? It turns out Gandhi's concern with racial discrimination was limited to Indians--in fact, he offered to organize a brigade of Indians to help the English colonial rulers crush an African rebellion. On a related note, we never see how Gandhi (Sergeant-Major Gandhi) earned a War Medal from the British Empire for valor under fire while assisting the violent suppression of South African Blacks.” (source

Considering Gandhi fought against black African's rights, it's quite ironic that Dr. Martin Luther King praised Gandhi as “the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change” (source). I think this illustrates the distorted image most people have of Gandhi.

Gandhi fought bigotry against his people and fought in favor of bigotry against black Africans. He judged a Christian church for adopting the Hindu caste system but excused Hinduism for creating it. He lived a perverted lifestyle and needlessly let his wife die without available medicine.

He has no business judging Christians, so let's quit using his hypocritical quotes.

Instead, let's quote someone like William Wilberforce who spent his life fighting against slavery. I think this Wilberforce quote is a fitting warning to us when we fail to identify "deeply flawed" arguments like Gandhi's. And it is a fitting response to Gandhi's criticism of Christianity:

“Christianity has been successfully attacked and marginalized…because those who professed belief were unable to defend the faith from attack, even though its attackers’ arguments were deeply flawed.” ― William Wilberforce, Real Christianity (source)

Image public domain wiki commons

Bible Love Notes


  1. In a world so full of human ideas and loud voices I can only hang on to knowing that Christ does not need to be defended. The doesn't need protectors and he can do without missionaries.
    Throwing verbal dirt on others does not make us cleaner.
    I'm sorry thinking about all that is done in God's name by any religion.
    There is a comfort in the thought that only God can and will judge one day.
    With respect we go further and reach higher than with critique.

    1. You call this article "verbal dirt" - It contains direct quotes from Gandhi and documented sources of his behavior of which he was proud. If someone is throwing verbal dirt on Gandhi, it is Gandhi himself. There is no rumor or slander in this post.

      And, if you believe it's wrong to write or teach or preach in defense of Christ and the Gospel, then you are judging all believers who obey Christ's commands to preach and teach in His name (Matthew 28). You are judging the Apostles who were beaten and imprisoned for defending the Gospel as missionaries, fighting the false pagan religions of their day.

      You say you are "sorry thinking about all that is done in God's name by any religion." If you can only see bad things done in Christ's name, then you have chosen to do so.

      And please note this important point:
      You claim that only God can judge and you claim that we should "go further and reach higher than with critique" but your comment judges all Christians, all missionaries, all who defend the faith, and this article.

      If anyone has thrown verbal dirt without respect for others, it is you, dear Unknown.

    2. Nicely put, Miss Gail!
      Whenever anyone uses that odd " logic" that its' all one God, with many paths" kinda thing, I just think of Jesus saying that " I am THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE. No one comes to the Father but through Me."
      You cannot get anymore concise than that. Now its either, as I believe C.S.Lewis stated, that Jesus IS who He says He is - the Son of God; He is a patholgical liar; or He is insane." There is NOT ALOT of " wiggle room " in there. That, and to consider the the Apostles - who lived with Him and watched Hom for 3 years, all ( save John) died HORRIBLE DEATHS rather than to simply renounce Him!
      These two points sum it all up for me, at least.
      Btw..Thank you AGAIN for the incredible " yeomans work" of your ministry. I am sure I speak for hundreds ( or more) of others who do not write in much, if at all, but get great joy and insights from your posting part of your ministry. God be with you and yours, now and always.
      Thanks again.
      Always, in His service, Bob Lyness.

    3. Thanks so much, Bob. I appreciate your insights and encouragement.

  2. Thank you so much for your time and effort to be one who carefully and prayerfully researches these topics to defend the faith from attack and encourages us all to do the same.

    1. Thanks, Victorian Farmhouse, your encouragement is a blessing after the judgmental critique above.
      God bless you.

    2. But Gail you handle the judgmental commenters so well!

  3. Thank you for sharing this, Gail. We so often stand with nothing to say because we do not know the facts. Jesus said that His people perish for a lack of knowledge.

    1. Thanks for your encouragement. I've gotten mostly positive feedback but Just this morning decided to explain my purposes for writing this to my discussion group.

      Maybe if I share them here on your encouraging comment, it will help other readers will better understand:

      First: Christians need discernment in choosing our heroes. I've heard Gandhi quoted by Christians as if he is a good example, and he is not. He worshipped a pagan god and as this article explains, some of his beliefs were perverse and his life involved a great deal of hypocrisy.

      Second: I didn't simply choose a random person to critique. I'm responding to Gandhi's harsh criticism of the Family of God - my family.

      Third: I am judging one man by biblical standards, using well-documented sources of his professed beliefs and lifestyle, not rumor or slander. In contrast, Gandhi judged millions of Christians based on some bad examples he encountered.

      Fourth: Gandhi is praised for his non-violent methods of achieving equality for all races. And most Christians don't realize that he didn't believe in equality for all races and nationalities. Nor was he always opposed to violence. He was awarded honors in the military in South Africa fighting to oppress black Africans. In the multiple resources I used none said he ever apologized for his violent racism.

      I believe these are reasons to address the legend of Gandhi versus the reality.

      Christians must face our errors and sins without excuse, but we also must realize that some of our adversaries have flawed arguments.

  4. Jesus came for the individual
    That's why He said, He is the Way, the Truth and the Life
    Christianity, started when believers formed subsequently
    Ultimately, EVERY Individual must be saved by Jesus alone
    Not any organisation or system

  5. While Gandhi might have said what he said about Christians ,

    It would have been wise if the Christians around him had told him in a way thought right that Jesus still loves him, no matter how he has sadly percieved the church itself.
    That Jesus had died for sinners, so whatever he percieved was possible but God sent His son to die for all mankind

    1. I think it's very likely that Christians did just what you are suggesting, Josh. But Jesus told us that the highway to destruction is wide and the gate to salvation is narrow and few find it. When a person judges the Gospel and rejects it based on some bad Christian examples, they are judging and rejecting Jesus. No one goes to hell because of bad examples.

  6. This is a sad truth. Jesus told us that we are the salt and light of the world... i light not meant to be hidden.

    I am reminded of a song:
    May all who come behind us finds us faithful, may the fire of our devotion lights their way. May the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe and the life we live inspire tgem to obey.


  7. When you refute Gandhi, because of his own failings, you deny the atrocities committed in the name of Christianity - for more than 2000 years. And now Evangelical "Christians" judge Jesus’s teachings weak, "too woke" and not relevant in today's world (see e.g., Russell Moore, Losing Our Religion). I am a 74yo Protestant and I am horrified at all that is accepted or even perpetrated by so-called Christians, while "good Samaritans" (i.e., despised races and religions) are vilified - so unlike Jesus. I agree with Gandhi.

    1. Dear Bevrain,
      Did you read this post before commenting?
      Please tell me where it "denies the atrocities committed in the name of Christianity"?

      And where in this article are Jesus' teachings judged as you claim? If you are saying that Jesus didn't judge false religions and false prophets like Gandhi, then you have bought into the world's version of Jesus. Yes, the world has created a Jesus who judges no one, but he is not the Jesus described in God's Word. The true Jesus judged false religions and He judged sin and sinners. For example:

      John 14:6: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

      Matthew 24:4-5: Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.

      Matthew 7:13-15: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

      In Matthew 10:14-15, he told his disciples: "If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town."

      When His unbelieving brothers talked to Him, He said, "The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil."

      You, dear lady, have given in to Satan's propaganda if you think Christians are the villains in our world. That is exactly what Satan wants the world to believe and Scripture tells us Satan has blinded the eyes of unbelievers (2 Cor. 4:4). I have lived all over the world and I have met 1000's of Christians and had fellowship in probably 50 churches. And I have never met a single person who "despised races" - Are there some? I'm sure there are. But they do not represent Christians.

      And I have never once heard a single Christian or pastor claim that Jesus was "too woke."

      For you to judge Christians as you have judged them in your comment is pure bigotry. What you are saying about Christians is no different than a white supremist saying all blacks are bad. Your bigotry against Christians is very clear and if you agree with Gandhi after reading that he followed a false religion that created the caste system and fought against black people's freedoms in South Africa, that means you must support some racial bigotry as well.

      But I won't judge all Christians by you because I know that the majority are godly, fair-minded people.