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, July 04, 2006

Curb proselytism in Andhra Pradesh

V SUNDARAM

In Andhra Pradesh we have a Congress gvernment under a Christian Chief Minister who takes instructions from an effete UPA Government in New Delhi which is under the stranglehold of International Roman Catholicism. The Andhra Pradesh government has been using its official agencies for purposes of State-sponsored, State-aided and State-abetted proselytism in Andhra Pradesh in a shamelessly flagrant manner during the last two years.

Y Samuel Rajasekar Reddy seems to be under the mistaken impression that he can behave like Henry VIII (1509-1547) of Tudor England and that he can take Andhra Pradesh back to the 16th century using the International Roman Catholic might of the UPA government in New Delhi.

A great champion of Sanatana Dharma and one who is known for her fearless journalism, Sandhya Jain has rightly observed in a recent article entitled 'Sacrilege at Tirupati Hills: 'The current initiative of Sri Swarupanandendra Swami of the Visakhapatnam-based Sri Sarada Peetham to mobilise Hindu seers to protect dharma in the face of rising depredations by evangelists has not come a day too soon. While religious conversions are innately offensive, the rising political eminence of an Italian-born Roman Catholic has witnessed a corresponding growth of aggressive proselytising at famous Hindu pilgrimages and holy sites. Sonia Gandhi has reinforced missionary muscle by sponsoring the rise of Christians in Congress State governments and party units on an unprecedented scale. Non-Christian Congress Chief Ministers have been made to acquiesce in missionary activities, and outrageously 'leaky' welfare schemes have been floated for the benefit of the tax-free NGO industry, most of which is anti-Hindu.'

With his known hatred for Hinduism, Y Samuel Rajasekhara Reddy is unlikely to ban physical and psychological encroachment upon the sacred spaces of Hinduism. What is for Hindus, of cosmic, significance and for proselytizers, of cosmic, significance, is that the Andhra Pradesh government does not permit Panchayat elections in Tirumala in view of its spiritual eminence and at the same time a Seventh Day Adventist Chief Minister permits predatory monotheistic faiths with a proven criminal record of international terrorism and violence for more than 1000 years to have a free run of the Tirumala hills. The Governor of Andhra Pradesh should take serious note of the blatantly anti-Hindu postures and policies of an Evangelical Chief Minister in Andhra Pradesh and recommend to the President of India the institution of appropriate proceedings for the prevention of inter-religious wars in Andhra Pradesh and more particularly in Tirumala hills area.

If Hindus in majority throughout India do not resist the diabolical moves of Andhra Pradesh government and Sonia Gandhi, sooner than later we are bound to have a significant Christian lobby in Parliament, through a fraudulently conceived amendment altering the basic structure of the Constitution of India. Sandhya Jain rightly concludes that an East Timor-like situation could develop in any part of the country where Western Christian nations have a geo-strategic or purely economic interest. Their lust for the mineral-rich north-east predates independence and is fostered by insurgency movements backed by various church denominations.
Such fears are not unfounded even today. Four nuns were arrested from the premises of Sri Venkateswara Ruia Government Hospital on charges of alleged proselytism in the last week of June, 2006. According to hospital sources, the nuns, who visited the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) funded government hospital, asked the patients of their names and details to perform 'healing prayers' in a local church last night. The hospital staff and attendants asked the nuns not to indulge in such an act and leave the premises. On two earlier occasions also, nuns had indulged in evangelical activities in Tirumala hills and at the Sri Venkateswara University. By maintaining an attitude of Christianity-coveting secular indifference, the Andhra Pradesh government has so far remained neutral between the fire brigade and the fire.

Taking note of the serious situation developing in Tirumala hills, His Holiness Sri Sri Visweswara Theertha of Pejawar Mutt, Udipi appointed a Fact Finding Committee in April, 2006, under the chairmanship of Justice G Bikshapathy. This committee was requested to ascertain the factual position as regards the activities of Non-Hindu religious communities in Tirumala and Tirupathi and to furnish a report to His Holiness for considering the steps to be taken to prevent undesirable activities of the Christian and other Non-Hindu communities.

The report of this committee was handed over to Sri Sri Visweswara Theertha Swami of Pejawar Mutt at Bangalore on 3 July, 2006. Commenting on the report of this Committee, Pejawar Swami condemned the evangelistic activities in Tirumala Hills highlighted by the Fact Finding Committee. He stated: 'Every religion must work with its own precincts. The trustees and employees of temples must be Hindus and the government should take action against missionaries who are propagating Christianity within the Tirumala Temple premises. Temple funds should be used for the propagation of Hinduism. At the moment they are being used to send people to Mecca'.

The following are the major findings and recommendations of the Fact Finding Committee appointed by Pejawar Swami:

(i) Members of the Christian community distributed religious pamphlets and copies of Bible to the students who were returning after writing the EAMCET examinations conducted at various centres in Tirupathi in May, 2006. Some student organizations protested against these activities. Police had to intervene to maintain law and order.

(ii) On 9 April, 2006, two Christians by name Balaraju (pastor) and Babu while coming down from Tirumala to Tirupathi in bus distributed pamphlets propagating Christianity to the pilgrims travelling in that bus.

(iii) As per Rule 197 of APCHR and E Act 1987 the population living in Tirumala shall adhere to the norms and shall follow the sentiments of Hindu Religion. As such thorough probe has to be taken up to verify the antecedents of Non-Hindu employees who are working in TTD. The identified employees and their families shall be shifted from Tirumala.

(iv) Some of the family members of the TTD employees such as wife, children are practicing Christian ideology and inviting the Pastors to conduct prayers in their houses at Tirumala. The above aspect may be carefully examined and steps taken to prevent the above activities in Tirumala.

(v) Two Christians viz. David (pastor) and Kumar, were found propagating Christianity in Tirumala and they were handed over to police. The police seem to have registered a case and kept them for two days on remand.

(vi) On 21 May, 2006, Special Officer Sri Dharma Reddy held press conference in which he stated that no Christian religious propaganda was going on in Tirumala. It is evident that he is not taking a serious view of these objectionable activities of the Christians at the holy place of Tirumala.

(vii) Rule 198 of APCHR & E Act 1987 in which anti-Hindu activities have been prohibited at Tirumala may be enforced ruthlessly without fear or favour.

(viii) Educational institutions at Tirupathi were established on TTD land and with TTD funds. It has been brought to the notice of the Committee that in the colleges and hostels at Tirupathi, Christian religious propagation is rampant. The Christian students themselves are acting as propagators. Sri Deva Sangeetham, Principal of S V University College is openly indulging in propagating and converting the students to Christianity by making them go to Church, reading Bible and creating disaffection towards Hindu religion. After Sri Deva Sangeetham has taken charge as Principal, the practice of garlanding the portrait of Lord Venkateswara was stopped.

(xi) After Veena Noble Das took charge as Vice-chancellor of Padmavathi Mahila University, she got removed the photos of Lord Venkateswara and Goddess Padmavathi from all the institutions of the Mahila University and she also got removed the portrait of Lord Venkateswara from her office and discontinued the practice of garlanding the portraits of Lord Venkateswara and Goddess Padmavathi everyday. Instead she kept a portrait of Jesus Christ and the Cross on her office table. She is sending batches of students in the University buses to the church. It is also stated that in the Mahila University, the students are not allowed to have tilak on the forehead now-a-days and that students putting tilak are being discriminated.

What is happening in Andhra Pradesh can only be summarized in the words of John E Remsburg: 'The Bible is, for the most part, the crude literature of the people who lived 2000 years, and more, ago. Certain principles of right and wrong they recognized, but the finer principles of morality were unknown to them.'

They were an ignorant people. An ignorant people is generally a religious people and a religious people nearly always an immoral people. They believe that they were God's chosen people 'favourites' and that because of this they had the right to rob and cheat, to murder and enslave the rest of mankind.

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