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, October 02, 2005

1,800 converts re-embrace Hinduism

Etah/ Vijay Upadhyay

As many as 1,800 Christians converts re-embraced Hinduism in Etah on Sunday and 40 churches were handed over to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad's Dharma Raksha Samiti, which would transform them into temples of Maharishi Valmiki. These temples would be open for the untouchable community too.

The purification drive, led by the Gorakhpur MP and saffron flag-bearer Yogi Aditya Nath, saw a gathering of more than 3,200 villagers from 70 villages of Etah at the Saraswati Vidya Mandir on Sunday. Earlier, about 5,000 Christian converts had re-joined Hinduism in Etah in February. Talking to The Pioneer, Hindu Jagran Vibhag, VHP regional coordinator Indrajit Arya said the missionaries misled Dalit Hindus, especially Valmikis of Agra to take to Christianity.

He said this community has always been considered untouchable and the missionaries took full advantage of this fact by promising lucrative terms like financial security and social equality.

While the VHP had taken up this task of re-conversion only a few years back, the Valmiki community of Agra was being misled by the missionaries for far too long, he said.

Some converts' families, which arrived in the purification ceremony, had been Christians for two-three generations and now they wanted to re-embrace Hinduism, along with their children, who were born Christians, he said and claimed that they wanted to reunite with their heritage that they had lost by assuming Christianity.

VHP leaders, including the Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath, subsequently dined with the 'reformed' Hindus to make them feel equivalent to other Hindus, as the missionaries target the practice of "untouchability" in Valmiki Dalits as their weapon for ensuring conversions. The leaders aim to bring back at least 80,000 Christian converts back by next year.

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