The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Why Anti-Conversion Law needed-II

Author: Dr Justice P. Venugopal (Retd)
Publication: Organiser
Date: May 18, 2003

Conversion attempts leads to social tension

In January 2003 tension prevailed near Deva Raja market in Mysore when a religious congregation led by Christian missionaries made derogatory references against Hindu gods and made attempts to convert people from the economically weaker sections and the local MIA went to the police station and lodged a complaint and the police are investigating the case.

The recent attempt at mass conversion in Selaiyeur (Chennai) should open the eyes of Hindus to the objectionable modus operandi used by foreign missionaries to collect a crowed for their ambitious programmes to convert 3000 Dalits to Christianity. The Dalits were told that the meeting was being convened to celebrate Ambedkar’s birthday and they were unaware of the real purpose for which the meeting was held. When the Christian missionaries started preaching and made efforts to convert the Dalits to Christianity there were loud protests and confusion and the meeting abruptly ended resulting in the conversion of few Dalits to Christianity. This is an instance to show the fraudulent means adopted to convert Dalits to Christianity. This appeared as a news item in the New Indian Express published two months back.

US Missionary Joseph William Cooper came to India on a tourist visa and was directed to leave India before 26.1.2003 on the charge of preaching Christianity and indulging in religious conversions near Trivandrum in Kerala. Cooper violated a 1955 Central Government order restricting foreign Christian missionaries from making speeches at religious conventions while visiting India on a tourist visa. Hence he was directed to leave India. Evangelistic activities by foreign Christian missionaries in India are prejudicial to the interest of the country, affect social harmony and are a threat to maintenance of public order. The Joseph William cooper incident must be an eye opener to other States in India.

Convert an inevitable extremist and a potential terrorist

Marvin Geonzon, a Christian, was converted to Islam in 1997 and joined a terror factory where his instructors taught him subjects like “Jihad” the holy war by Muslims against person of other religious and bomb making. Marvin has matured into a terrorist. He set off a bomb in a restaurant in Southern Philippines killing six people and within four years after conversion he became a terrorist. The magazine Far Eastern Economist published an article under the heading “How a convert turned into a terrorist” and cited a number of instances of terrorist activities committed by the new converts to Islam and concluded by stating “that many of the zealous young converts to Islam are prepared to die for the new found faith”. And anti-terror official of the Philippines recently declared: “The new wave of converts to Islam could prove more dangerous than established Muslim guerilla group.” According to him, “Converts are ideal terrorists and they are eager to prove themselves worthy of their new faith”. In his article on “Converts to Violence” in New York Post Editor Daniel Pipes states the link between neo-converts and violent terrorists and concludes by saying that it was no surprise that the prime suspect in the Washington DC area sniper attack that took place on November 11, 2000 was found to be John Allen Muhammad, a convert to Islam seventeen years back.

Abdullah-EI-Faisal, aged 39, was converted to Islam and came to Britain in the nineties and was arrested in 2000 after questions were raised in British Parliament about his activities. He was accused of going around the country inciting “impression-able” Muslim youths to kill “non-believers”. Tapes of his inflammatory speeches were played before the Jury. In one tape recorded before the well known September 11 attack that took place in the United States he was heard telling his followers to “learn to shoot —fly planes and use missiles”. In another speech recorded in tape he justified use of nuclear weapons against a country, which has 100 per cent non-believers. Holding that the extremist Muslim Cleric Abdullah-El- Faisal guilty of inciting racial hatred by urging his followers to kill non-believers including Hindus and Jews a British Court at Old Bailey sentenced him to nine years imprisonment and recommended that the accused should be deported to his native country, Jamaica after completing his sentence. This is another instance of how a convert becomes an extremist indulging in terrorist activities.

The natural psychology of disgruntled convert is to turn against his religion by birth and it is easy to make him an extremist and a terrorist. A convert to Islam is a naturally motivated person and an ideal candidate for “Jihad”. The converts in India are driven by the same psychology. Christian converts in Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Tripura have demonstrated the same psychology. Some Islamic terrorists in Tamil Nadu are new converts to Islam. Thus there is nexus between conversion and terrorism and between converts and terrorists.

Conclusion

Foreign Christian missionaries should understand that freedom to propagate religion under the Indian Constitution is confined to only Citizens of India and do not extend to foreign Christian missionaries. Further freedom to propagate religion does not mean the right to convert people of one religion to another religion. After examining the different meanings of the word “propagate” in Article 21(1) of the Constitution Chief Justice A.N. Ray of the Supreme Court held that what Article 21(1) grants is not the right to convert another person to one’s own religion by exposition of its tenets and ruled that propagation does not mean conversion of one person to another religion. Rev. Stainslaws v. State of Madhya Pradesh (AIR 1977 SC 908). From this decision of the Supreme Court it is clear that the right to propagate religion granted in Article 21(1) of the Constitution does not include the right to convert a person to another religion.

Globally supported and funded and with meticulous planning, preparation and follow-up action the converters have exterminated hundreds and thousands of native Americans and turned the United States into a Christian nation. Whole of Europe has been turned into a Christian nation leaving no native element. Latin American Countries have become Christians. 92 per cent of the Philippines 32 per cent of Africa and Korea have embraced Christianity. The ancient Rome and Greek Civilisations have gone into the archives after the advent of Christianity. Should this happen to India? Should Hindu civilisation and culture to be a thing of the past? In the world there are 52 countries for Muslims and 88 countries for Christians. For Hindus there is only one country and that is India. Should Hindu India be allowed to be exterminated and wiped out as happened to other countries of the world?

Christians came to this land with Bible and preached their religion. Muslim invaders came to India with the sword and spread their religion. Spiritually liberated, as Indians are, we accommodated both and also assimilated their religions as we were confident that Hinduism would not be impaired by such accommodations and assimilations. But Hindu generosity and liberal hospitality should not be allowed to be exploited to spread other religions and convert Hindus to other religions as it would amount to debasing and sabotaging Hindu religion which does not believe in conversion or go to other countries to market their religion. Hinduism does not preach conversion. Hinduism is the only religion in the world that does not go for conversion. Should Hinduism be penalised for following this ideology by converting Hindus to other religion?

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