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.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ban on conversion: Uplift the downtrodden

Central Chronicle--Editorial

After Orissa, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, now Chhattisgarh is readying to bring in a bill banning religious conversion. As far as provisions in the Constitution are concerned, there is freedom of religion included in basic human rights. A person may follow religion of his choice. Following a religion is a personal matter but this is also true that conversion by luring the gullible people is illegal. Such conversions are mainly taking place with the downtrodden, poor and the adivasis. The biggest religion for such a class is satisfying its hunger pangs. The people who feel ignored by their own religious class of people, find solace in embracing other religions. There is no doubt in the fact that the poor and scheduled caste/scheduled tribe people are seen to be converting into other religions. The missionaries are working in many far flung, backward areas of the country and they win the hearts of the downtrodden people. However, the Bharatiya Janata Party views it differently. It sees dangers in conversion. The party has its own reasoning. For example the increase in Christian population in the North east and Muslims in Assam may pose danger to the unity and integrity of the country. Hindu organisations have been frequently expressing fears over one more division of the country on religious grounds. The charge of employing pressure and allurements for attaining religious conversion is also not hollow. A fat donation is received from abroad for this purpose. The political influence besides social, resulting from conversions cannot be overlooked. The end result of this conversion is visible in the form of social tension and violence. It is a matter of regret that the ill-effects of conversion are ignored due to the vote bank politics. The state governments which are contemplating to enforce ban on religious conversion have a social responsibility before them that they pay due attention towards the all-round development of backward classes and the adivasis.


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