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.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Proposed anti-conversion bill evokes mixed reaction

Ranchi
Posted on 12 Dec 2005 # IANS
NewKerala.com

There have been mixed reactions in Jharkhand over the proposed anti-conversion bill in the state with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president L.K. Advani welcoming the announcement.

Chief Minister Arjun Munda had announced his decision on anti-conversion legislation at a rally on Saturday to protect tribal culture and identity.

While the five Independents supporting the government have lauded the move, BJP partner Janata Dal-United has reserved its view on the issue.

Madhu Koda, a minister and spokesperson for the five independents, said: "We will support the bill. In a secular country there should not be any conversions."

Chandrea Prakash Chaudhary, another independent minister, said: "Religious conversions should not take place by alluring people with money and social work."

Jaleshwar Mahto, the state JD-U president and a minister, said: "Any person who changes his religion by choice should not be stopped. But forceful conversions are wrong."

On expected lines, the opposition parties have not taken the announcement casually.

Sudhir Mahto, a Jharkhand Mukti Morcha opposition leader, said: "BJP's real face has surfaced. Now the party wants to create social tension in the name of religion. Development has taken backseat in the state."

Most other parties like the Congress, Left and the RJD have also criticised the move.

Christian missionaries have also sharply criticised the announcement.

"It will affect our work. The government cannot stop any one from converting willingly. Munda himself is not is tribal. In my view there is no need for such law in the state," said Bishop Vincet Barwah of Roman Catholic Church.

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