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.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Kerala church warns of second liberation struggle

CPM-Xian honeymoon collapsing
By S. Chandrasekhar

E.M.S. Namboodiripad ministry of 1957, the first elected communist regime in the world, was dismissed by Nehru due to the ‘liberation struggle’ spearheaded by the church and supported by Muslim League and Hindu community organisations like NSS and SNDP. The strategy of Communist Party (then undivided) to take over educational institutions run by the church, provoked the ‘liberation struggle’ which was marred by violent protests, attacks by communist cadres on church believers and death by police firing, of even women and children.

In the run-up to the 2004 Lok Sabha and 2006 Assembly polls, concerted efforts were made by the CPM to woo the Christians (who are traditional UDF/Congress voters), apart from placating Muslim extremist groups like Madhani, JEI, NDF, SIMI etc. CPM leaders like M.A. Baby, Sebastian Paul, Lonappan Nambadan, Thomas Issac, Ninan Koshy etc were specially drafted to establish rapport with the church. Several state meets of the CPM and the Malappuram meet passed resolutions wooing the Christians and Muslims and public acknowledgments were made by Pinarayi, V.S. and Karat, saying they cannot win in Kerala without getting Muslim/Xian votes who form almost 45 per cent of the populace. The church also reciprocated and several churches issued ‘pastoral letters’ calling for voting for CPM/LDF.

Education Minister M.A. Baby repeated the same mistake committed by Joseph Mundassery in 1957. His Self-Financing Colleges Act aimed at controlling, and being under state control, the engineering and medical colleges, predominantly, controlled by the church, evoked sharp protests and violent agitations by the church. The CPM’s monkey brigade, SFI, hit out against the church-run colleges by attacking their offices and vehicles. Finally the Supreme Court struck down the Act, much to the glee of the church.

Now the CPM regime has de-affiliated several colleges, medical and engineering, run by the church, which has threatened a ‘second liberation struggle’ to rid Kerala of communist rule.

The Kerala Bishops’ Council consisting of religions heads of all major church faction like Syro-Malankara Catholic, Roman Catholic, Marthoma, Malankara, Orthodox, Latin Catholic, CSI etc have formed an ‘Inter Church Council for Education’ to unify their agitations. Thrissur Arch Bishop Mar Andrews Thazhath belled the cat first, by reading ‘pastoral letters’ against the CPM’s tactic to infringe on minority rights enshrined in the Constitution. “Nobody will be allowed to destroy education institutions run by the church and any persecution on institutions will be strongly resisted. Taking away rights of appointments of teachers and staff, making Sundays working days and handing over control of church-run institutions to local bodies, will be strongly resisted. If CPM has its way, students will wish each other ‘Lal salam’, ‘Inquilab zindabad,’ totally destroying faith, culture and religions values”, the Bishop thundered. He called upon church followers to even spill blood and sacrifice lives to protect Christianity.

Other Arch Bishops like Mar Joseph Perumthottam, Mar Powathil, Baselious Mar Clemis, Soosapakiam etc have also accused the CPM of claiming to be champions of minorities but stabbing them in the back.

An arrogant Pinarayi Vijayan has asked the church to withdraw protests and pastoral letters. He reminded the ignorant bishops of Pope John Paul-II-Fidel Castro relations!

The bishops have hit back saying Pinarayi language smacks of vengeance and church institution are being hounded. They also said that the CPM of today is not the Communist Party of 1957 which was led by stalwarts like EMS and Atchuda Menon, whose commitment to socialism and Communism was rock-like. They said the CPM cannot bully and bulldoze them to surrender their right to preach through pastoral letters and accused CPM of a ‘hidden agenda’ in destroying the church.

The church has planned massive protests on August 12, all over the state. They are in the process of forming ‘protection and self-defence squads’, a reminder of the 1957 ‘Kuruvadi Sangam’.

Meanwhile, in a severe jolt to the CPM regime, the Supreme Court has passed humiliating strictures on the state asking: What a government are you running? This is based on a petition filed by the church-run and other medical colleges asking central force protection for their admission tests, since SFI mob attacked their exam centres and injured students and teachers. But for the crocodile-skinned CPM, it is dust to be flicked away.

Although, it cannot be disputed that the church-run institutions are denying admission to Hindus, this move of the CPM is fraught with dangerous consequences. If CPM is acting on the church-run institutions, to help Hindus, will it have the conviction to admit that it is essentially a Hindu party? That is the truth, which the CPM feels it is bitter to admit, as it is going after the minority vote oasis, which is only a mirage.

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