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.

Friday, February 18, 2005

5000 Christian Converts Return to Hinduism in Etah

Vijay Upadhyay/ Etah
Pioneer Feb 15 2005

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists here on Sunday oversaw the reconversion of about 5,000 Christians, including priests, to Hinduism after a "purification" ceremony. This ceremony took place on Sunday after activists of the Dharma Raksha Samiti of the VHP spread out to 26 villages of Etah and Firozabad districts, spreading over 14 churches being run by Christian priests. The church priests were then made aware of their "moral duty" towards Hinduism which they had forgotten after being "misled" by Christian missionaries.

In a grand "purification" ceremony, at least 5,000 Christian "convertees" were brought back to the Hindu fold, including the priests of the 14 churches which have now been transformed into Arya Samaj Gurukuls for dalit children. The reconverted priests have been assigned the duty of operating these Gurukuls as teachers.

During the ceremony, the priests, who had been tattooed with a "cross" at the time of their conversion were again tattooed with the sign of "Om" on their forearms. Later, all the assembled convertees and VHP activists participated in a communal feast to indicate that although the convertees had been reinducted into
Hinduism as dalits, they would be treated as equals in society.

The "purification" ceremony took place in full knowledge of the Etah administration which declined to interfere in the matter claiming it to be a religious matter entirely driven by the will of the convertees. Etah District Magistrate RP Shukla said religious freedom is a fundamental right and the administration could only interfere if anyone's religious freedom is being forcibly challenged.

Citing the reason for the need of such a drastic action, Mohan Joshi, secretary of the VHP, who was in Etah especially for this event, said these dalit people who have now been reinducted into Hinduism, had been misled by Christian missionaries into accepting Christianity through lucrative offers of financial security and social equality.

Instead, they found that by losing their Hindu identity, they had lost their heritage so they were willing to let go of their Christian identity if given a chance. The VHP only acted as an intermediary by providing this opportunity.

He said the people who have been purified have signed an affidavit claiming they have accepted Hinduism without any force and on their own free will which proves that the VHP did not force anybody into accepting Hinduism. He also said the priests who have been reinducted into Hinduism have taken a pledge to preach Hinduism and educate dalit children. NRI Bihari Lal alias Kallu, a resident of Surinam, originally a resident of Ghazipur, said he had been given a lucrative
offer of employment in a foreign land by Christian missionaries if he accepted Christianity.


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