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, July 07, 2007

A new chapter of Hindu resurgence – AP ordinance to curb evangelism

Andhra Pradesh Government has finally issued an ordinance empowering the state to prohibit propagation of religion in places of worship or prayer other than the religion traditionally practiced at such place and the matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

The following is the text in English of the Ordinance promulgated by the Governor on May 22, 2007 published under article 348 (3) of the Constitution of India general information:-

An ordinance empowering the state to prohibit propagation of religion in places of worship or prayer other than the religion traditionally practiced at such place and the matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Whereas, the founding fathers of our Republic had envisaged a polity that gave each citizen in our country the right to profess, practice and propagate religion of his or her choice; and this is the foundation of our pluralist society:

And whereas, the fundamental right is circumscribed by the over-arching concern to maintain public order, morality, and health;

And whereas, the right to profess, practice and propagate religion is voluntary without any element of coercion;

And whereas, if an activity of any individual our grouped individuals silkily to adversely impact public order, it needs to be curbed and reasonable restrictions can be placed on such activities;

And whereas, in recent past, there have been number of instances where propagation of religious tenets in places of worship or prayer of one religious group by others has deeply hurt sentiments, disturbing peace and tranquility of that area;

And whereas, such incidents were reported from the world-renowned, ancient temple liked Tirumala, and there were strong protests;

And whereas, the government perceived these as unwarranted intrusion into one religious group’s domain which potentially could disturb public order.

And whereas, the Constitution of our country guarantees to all citizens an equal entitlement to freedom of conscience and this recognition of individual freedom and the spirit of mutual respect and co-existence among various religious denominations is the bedrock of our country’s ideological framework enshrined in the Constitution;

And whereas, the state government intends to bring an ordinance to prohibit the propagation of other religions in certain notified places of worship belonging to any particular religion mainly to ensure that the sentiments of that religious group are not hurt and public order is not disturbed;

And whereas, the Legislature of the State is not now in session and the Governor of Andhra Pradesh is satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action;

Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by Clause (1) of Article 213 of the Constitution of India, the Governor hereby promulgates the following ordinance.

1. (1) This Ordinance may be called the Andhra Pradesh Propagation of Other Religion in the Pieces of Worship or Prayer (Prohibition) Ordinance,2007.

(2) It extends to the whole of the State of Andhra Pradesh.

(3) It shall come into force at once.

2. (1) The government with a view to maintaining public order, tranquility and serenity of a place of worship or prayer, prohibit propagation of a religion other than the religion traditionally practiced at such place, by words, either spoken or written or signs or by visible representation or distribute of any printed material or other forms of religious literature.

(2) the government by order shall notify such places of worship or prayer from time to time.

3. Whoever contravenes the provisions contained in section shall be punished with imprisonment which may extends to three years or with fine up to Rs. 5,000/- (rupees five thousand) or with both.

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