“I like your Christ;
I do not like your Christians.
Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
* * *
Since posting, I have found that some dispute that Gandhi said this. I found the following:
I can’t find any source for him stating the quote as such. I did find a book, The Knights Templar & the Protestant Reformation, which states that when Stanley Jones, a missionary met with Ghandi he asked him:
Mr. Gandhi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower?
Oh, I don’t reject Christ. I love Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ.
The book seems to have a reference, although I can’t check what it is as the references page is not on Google Books.
The quote seems to be from the book Mr. Gandhi, the man by Millie Graham Polak although the book is not viewable online.
Searching the book for the first part of the passage quoted in the knights templar book, “Is Mr. Gandhi a Christian?” returns a hit, although searching for “stanley jones” or “reject christ” does not.
In The Christ of the Indian Road by E. Stanley Jones, Stanley Jones asked Gandhi how to naturalize Christianity into India. Gandhi replied in part:
I would suggest first of all that all of you Christians, missionaries and all begin to live more like Jesus Christ.
This could be in part where the quote came from, if it was never said directly by Gandhi.
Given the amount of consistent references to the quote being said in reply to a question from Stanley Jones, I think it is likely something very similar to the oft quoted passage was said. I can’t find anything online that shows this for certain and don’t have access to the books where the quote may appear to check, so it’s hard to say for sure.
Dave A. responds in a comment to this post (below):
The information I have so far attributes the proximate statement in Stanley’s book to Bara Dada and not to Gandhi. I have a first edition copy of “Mr. Gandhi the Man” by Polak (1931) and I assure you that the Gandhi quote is NOT in that book. He speaks to his friend about his attraction to Christianity and the possibility of becoming Christian himself. His reasons for not doing so, he explains, have to do with his sense that he has found, in his “native” Hindu religion, all of the essential values that Christianity promotes. He is in a sense a universalist, believing that a path to God can be found in every major religion. There are no disparaging remarks about Christians in the book. Gandhi’s history is one of reconciliation and marshalling people from many faith communities to promote freedom and justice. That work began in earnest in South Africa, where he brought Christians together with other adherents for his social justice work.