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, April 11, 2005

Maharashtra Christian Groups Voice Support for Extortive Conversion Practices

Mumbai

Christian organisations in Maharashtra are lobbying with political leaders of the Congress party to prevent a law that would put a halt to the extortive conversion activities of missionaries in the state.

The organisations have submitted memorandums to Congress party president Sonia Gandhi and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar on the matter.

The move follows statements by Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister R.R. Patil in the state legislature that a separate cell would be set up by the government to monitor foreign funds coming into the state for missionary activities. Though Patil's statement was part of efforts to prevent a bill by a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA against conversions from being passed, Christian organisations oppose the bill fearing that their attempts to convert impoverished Hindus through economic “bribes” will be hindered.

"The separate cell will only be used to harass organisations working for the welfare of Dalits and tribals," Abraham Mathai,a Christian member of the state Minorities Commission said. Mathai supports the conversion activities of missionaries among these poorer segments of the Hindu population.

Bodies like the All India Christian Council, the Mumbai Catholic Sabha and the Christian Secular Forum are holding meetings with officials of the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations and lay people to mobilize public opinion on the matter.

Despite the massive influx of missionary funding from aboard, Christian bodies say the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act enacted by the central government was sufficient for the purpose and the state government need not set up a separate cell.

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