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.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Hindu Pontiffs Accuse CIA of Backing Evangelists in India

January 18, 2005.
B.R. SRIKANTH, Bangalore, Jan. 17 2005
The Telegraph, Calcutta

The murmurs of resentment against an American pastor grew into a roar today with pontiffs of several mutts threatening to stage a demonstration on the eve of his prayer meeting.

Seventeen seers led by Vishwesha Teertha Swami of the Pejawar Mutt (Udupi) accused Benny Hinn, founder of the World Outreach Centre in Orlando, Florida, of attempting to convert people to Christianity.

The 51-year-old pastor’s Festival of Blessings, scheduled from Friday to Sunday, earned the wrath of the mutts as his pamphlets condemn idol worship.

The pontiffs have threatened to stage a sit-in outside Vidhana Soudha, the state secretariat, on Wednesday.

They requested the Karnataka government to arrest Hinn for attempting mass conversion. “It is a rally for conversion on the pretext of healing the sick,” the seers said in a joint statement released to the media today. The seers have also asked the state government to set up a panel of experts to probe Hinn’s claims of miracle healing.

Shama Sunder, the convener of the Jana Jagruti Vedike (Awareness Forum) that organised a pontiffs’ meeting today, said: “The rally is sponsored by the CIA. It is a cover for CIA agents to indulge in anti-India activity.
“We have information that the Christian Baptist Council and other bodies are receiving aid from the CIA for conversion activities and this information is based on evangelical literature published by the World Church Council. Benny Hinn and others work for the CIA.”
Karnataka High Court has reserved order on an appeal by Gul Kriplani, the national chairman of the festival, against a verdict by a city court for seizure of all propaganda material that hurt the sentiments of Hindus. Justice N. Kumar said he would pronounce the judgment tomorrow.

Later, Kriplani apologised for the pamphlets criticising idol worship.

“Our intention was never to hurt anybody or any group. Benny Hinn has never condemned or criticised any religion or group. We have invited other religious leaders, too, for the prayer meeting. The pastor can pray, he cannot heal people,” Kriplani told a news conference.

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