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, September 02, 2005

Swayamsevaks foil conversion bid

Kalahandi is one of the most poverty-stricken district of Orissa where almost all the people are living below poverty line. Although, the State Government and various international agencies like DFID, World Bank, etc, spend a lot of money here, the people hanker after the basic amenities for life. Selling out newborn babies is not new here. It provided a golden chance for the pastors, claiming themselves as the embodiment of service. Gradually they start their activities in the region. Distribution of the Bible, organisation of prayer classes, turned into a regular feature and the needy villagers were reportedly motivated to change their religion in exchange of a handful of rice or a nominal amount of money. For giving a final touch to this mission of conversion, a programme was scheduled to be held in Junagarh township from July 19 to 22. In this programme, about 150 to 200 families were to be converted into Christianity through dooban. Everything was ready. Three bishops had come from Bangalore to perform the ceremony. But this news reached the local RSS workers and leaders of other Hindu organisations. RSS Swayamsevaks along with the members of VHP and local unit of BJP organised a grand protest rally. A memorandum was also presented to the district administration to arrest the pastors, engaged in the illegal conversion of Hindus. “Initially, the administration was not ready to take any action against them, as they are being protected by a particular political party, but after pressure from public, the pastors were arrested,” says Shri Umesh Nayak, a Sangh worker. But surprisingly the three accused pastors, Joshep, Kallep and John, were freed from the police custody. No case has been lodged and “they have committed no offence,” confirm the police sources. Now these pastors have no trace in the locality.
-Debasis Tripathy from Kalahandi

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