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, January 02, 2005

Is the Church a religious or political body? asks RSS

By Kamal Kant Gouri/Agra

While differentiating between the Church and Indian Christians, Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) Sarsanghachalak (national president) K S Sudarshan said here on Sunday that "India is being used for political purposes by the Western powers which cannot be allowed" and expressed the hope that Christians of the country would be in the forefront to foil "this conspiracy".In his speech at the closing session of the "Rashtriya Suraksha Mahashivir" --- which was also attended by Union Home Minister L K Advani --- and later at a Press conference, Mr Sudarshan said: "Today, Christianity is more of politics and less of religion. Therefore, for the sake of our country, we have to oppose this politics of the Church."

Condemning the Vatican for asserting in a recent document that "all religions are not equal," the RSS chief asked whether "people believing in such views (Catholic missionaries) should be allowed to work here".

"We do not need conversion. The majority of Indian Christians subscribe to the Vatican view. When England, Scotland and Ireland can have their own churches, it is necessary for Indian Christians to sever their ties with such an intolerant viewpoint and accept that there are other ways of salvation".

Quoting some of the publications of Christian leaders, Mr Sudarshan said that the Church is working against the interests of the country, particularly in the North-East, and this has to be resisted.

He pointed out that he was not the first to demand the "Indianisation of the Church." Some Church leaders themselves have been demanding it since as back as 1968.

He referred to one Archbishop Athanasius Joel S Williams "who had talked of setting up a National Church".

Asked what the RSS means when it talks of "assimilation of the minorities in the mainstream", Mr Sudarshan replied that he did not expect Muslims and Christians to adopt the Hindu way of life but wanted them "to respect their forefathers". He cited the example of Ras Khan, a poet of this area who wrote in praise of Krishna centuries ago. When a question was put to him on what will happen to the concept of "Hindu Rastra" as has been propagated by the RSS, Mr Sudarshan said that India was already a "Hindu Rashtra." Apart from the issue of minorities, Mr Sudarshan was critical of the economic policies though he was not directly critical of the NDA government as was done by his second in command Mohan Bhagwat two days back. Rather RSS leaders are now trying to tone down his critical views about the working of the NDA government.

Even while delving on the economic policies, Mr Sudarshan refrained from making any critical comment on the government directly. On the economic policies his stand was that this system is not good for the nation as it would not be able to bring any good to the nation. On his economic view point, he said that village should be the centre of economic policies unlike the city which is at the centre of the policies now. He seemed to pursue the thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi.

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