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.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Churches mushroom in Tirumala

12/5/2005 3:46:58 PM H K Correspondent

Tirupati, Dec 05

Churches are mushrooming in the holy hills of Tirumala, one of the most sacred religious places for the Hindus, in Andhra Pradesh with the alleged tacit approval of the government.

According to a report in the vernacular daily Andhra Jyothi, plans are afoot to construct a church up in Tirumala when there are already seven churches in Tirupati. The report alleged that the AP Chief Minister, Dr Y Samuel Rajasekhara Reddy, a convert to Christianity, was providing all the government support for building the new church. The government controls the management of the temples in Tirupati and Tirumala through the TTD Trust.

To facilitate the operations, they have already converted the Executive Officer of T.T.D into christianity (again, this officer is appointed by the government itself). “The plans came to light when 100 acres of land, up in Tirumala, was put to auction by the executive officer and the Christian missionaries started bidding for it”.

The Hindu organisations have questioned this move which they said “not at all necessary when the temple is not at all in need of any money. Even if the temple needed money, there are FDs from T.T.D worth more than 15,000 crores in various banks, which can be withdrawn at any time. Over the years, the guideline followed by T T D is not to sell any land to anyone. They used to lease the land for different Mutts (like our Kashi Mutt) and Chathras”. The lease period was not more than 30 years which needed renewal on its expiry. “This being the case, why would they sell the land now?”

They said that even during the British colonial rule they(missionaries) did not dare to come to Tirupati/Tirumala with their conversion plans. “But now, with the help of our own people, they are crossing all the limits of toleration”, they said.

Meanwhile, according to a report in the Hinustan Times on July 26 from Mineapolis, 23 Indo- American organizations in Houston had urged Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to ask the “Andhra Pradesh government to maintain the sanctity of the religious place which is a holy shrine for the Hindus world over. Agitated by media reports from India that the AP government was actively considering the application of a religious society to build a church atop the Tirumala Hills, the abode of Lord Venkateshvara, these Indo-American organizations held an emergency meeting at Houston on 16th July to discuss the issue. The meeting decided to send a representation to the Prime Minister.

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