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.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Seers intervene to prevent US Pastor's discourse

Monday, January 17 2005 19:28 Hrs (IST) - World Time -

Bangalore: Prominent Swamijis (Seers) in Karnataka today (Jan 17, 2005) stepped in to protest the "Festival of Blessings" of controversial American evangelist Benny Hinn and pressed the Government to withdraw permission to hold the three-day prayer meeting starting in Bangalore on Friday (Jan 21, 2005).

At least 17 Swamijis, including Vishweshateertha Swamiji, Balagangadharanatha Swamiji and Harshananda Swamji, met at Shankara Mutt in Bangalore and condemned the Government's move to allow the congregation at Jakkur Airfield.

The Swamijis threatened to hold a protest dharna in front of Vidhan Soudha, the State secretariat, on January 19 if the Government did not act on their demand.

Vishweshateertha Swamiji also demanded that the Government constitute a medical team to look into veracity of reports that the Pastor had healing powers. The Swamijis also came down heavily on the organisers for circulating pamphlets criticising idol worship.

Meanwhile, organisers of the convention defended the event, saying the Pastor would only deliver spiritual discourses at the "Pray for India rally" during "Festival of blessings".

Hinn has never condemned or criticised any other religion or group, National Co-chairman of the event Gul Kripalani told reporters in Bangalore today.

Organisers said they are withdrawing the pamphlets, offered a public apology and sought to distance themselves from comments on idol worship.

In a statement, they said that global attention would be focused on the city, with delegates coming in from the Far East and West Asia, as well as from all neighbouring countries.

"The highlights of the event will be a 2200 voice choir, the presence of 10,000 priests and pastors, led by Shekhar Kalyanpur at a multi-religious audience", it said.

Organisers claimed that former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, Chief Ministers of six States led by N Dharam Singh of Karnataka and Union Ministers Arjun Singh, M V Rajasekharan and Oscar Fernandes are among those who would attend the event.

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