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, July 10, 2005

Agra Converts Rejoin Hinduism After Being "Misled" By Missionaries

Daily Pioneer
Monday, July 11, 2005
Vijay Upadhyay/ Agra

The Agra Dalits are a confused lot nowadays. As the town becomes a laboratory for religious experimentation, the Dalit is unwillingly playing the guinea pig, alternately sporting the cross and the Om.

According to a recent survey of Agra division's seven districts, made by Hindu organisations in the region, over 2 lakh Dalits have been converted to Christianity.

It's the Dalits in the Valmiki community that have borne the brunt of conversions the most. Almost 90 per cent of the Valmikis have come under the sway of baptisation drives and converted to Christianity.

Now, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has launched a massive campaign to bring back the convertees into the Hindu fold.

Regional co-coordinator, Hindu Jagran Vibhag of the VHP, Indrajit Arya claims that a large number of these convertees still followed Hindu customs, despite being warned of dire consequences by the missionaries for indulging in "Hindu idol worship." The women still observe the karwachauth fast, the cross on their neck notwithstanding.

The "purification drive" that aims to facilitate the "home coming" of the convertees has successfully purified just over 18,000 in the past one year, including 17 priests. In February this year, 5,000 converts were brought back into the fold in a purification camp in Etah on a single day.

Eversince, 600 Dharm Raksha Samiti activists have continually been visiting the villages. The newly baptised villagers are re-converted to Hinduism either by Arya Samaj leaders in small groups or through a havan, that purifies them en masse.

The VHP leaders subsequently dine with the "reformed" Hindus to make them feel equivalent to the other Hindus, as the missionaries target the practice of "untouchability" in Valmiki Dalits as their weapon for affecting conversions.

Says Mr Arya, "The purified Hindus were made to sign affidavits certifying that they had not been forcibly re-converted."

The Hindu leaders aim to bring back atleast 80,000 Christian convertees back to the fold by the turn of the next year.

Recently, another purification drive was held in Etah, where 45 Christians re-entered Hinduism, including three Christian priests who willingly handed over the "churches" to the VHP, to be transformed into Gurukuls. The church priests were then made aware of their "moral duty" towards Hinduism which they had forgotten after being "misled" by Christian missionaries.

The VHP's next stop is Hathras, where it aims to coax at least 6000 convertees to return to Hinduism.

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