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.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

There's no fundamental right to convert: SC

TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ SATURDAY, MAY 20, 2006 02:11:15 AM]
NEW DELHI

The Vatican's stand that the fundamental right to practice and propagate religion includes the right to convert was an issue considered and rejected by the Supreme Court.

In a 1977 judgement in the Rev Stanislaus versus the State of Madhya Pradesh, the court had upheld the constitutional validity of conversion-prohibiting laws enacted by Madhya Pradesh and Orissa.

The two states, which were then controlled by the Congress, had passed anti-conversion laws in 1967 and 1968, respectively. ?What the Constitution grants is not the right to convert another person to one?s own religion, but to transmit or spread one?s religion by an exposition of its tenets,? the court had ruled.

According to the SC, organised conversion, whether by force or fraud or by providing help or allurement to persons, taking undue advantage of their poverty and ignorance, is anti- secular.

The court had said respect for all religions was the essence of our secularism, whereas religious intolerance constituted the basis of planned conversion. Given this, conversion cannot be a secular activity.

Besides Orissa and MP, three other states have anti-conversion law in the statute. They include Chhattisgarh ? which retained the law after the bifurcation ? Arunachal Pradesh and Gujarat.

Tamil Nadu, too, had passed a law in 2002, but repealed it when the DMK succeeded in projecting the law as one aimed at minorities in the state.

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