ANTI- CONVERSION BILL! Reaction from the Archbishop of Bengaluru
Bengaluru: I have read the reports in the media that the Backward & Minority Welfare Department of Karnataka wishes to make a survey of the Christian missionaries and their places of worship. We consider this exercise futile and unnecessary. There is no good that will come out of it, In fact, in the background of the conversion bogeyman and anti-religious feelings that are being whipped up, it is dangerous to make such surveys. With this our community places of worship as also pastors and sisters will be identified and may be unfairly targeted.
We are already hearing of such sporadic incidents in the north and in Karnataka already. Why is the government interested in making surveys of the religious personnel and places of worship only of the Christian Community? We are sad that the Hon’ble Chief Minister, Shri Basavaraj Bommai, whom we regard highly as a broad-minded and enlightened person succumbs to the pressures from fundamentalist groups, who wish to indulge in disturbing the peace, harmony and peaceful co-existence in the society.
Let the government take the count of the educational institutions and health centres run by the Christian missionaries. That will give a fair idea of the service that is rendered by the Christian Community to nation-building. How many people are converted in these places and institutions? If as alleged by some, Christians are converting indiscriminately why is the percentage of the Christian population is reducing regularly when compared to others? We are always against forceful, fraudulent and incentivised conversions and we repeat that we are lawfully abiding by the prescriptions of the Constitution of India, which for us is supreme and sacred.
Does not the Constitution in Article 25 (also 26, 29 & 30) ensure the freedom of every citizen to profess, practice and propagate his/her religion without fear or force? Why do we need any anti-conversion laws when there are enough safeguards enshrined in the Constitution and the legal system of the country to punish the guilty? Further laws will only be tools in the hands of a few hounds and persecute the innocent. Just a few days back the Madras Court declared that merely going to church and displaying Christian symbols does not mean that a person has converted.
The Christian Community is patriotic, law-abiding and would like to be foremost in the service of the poor and downtrodden in the country. We need support and encouragement from the government.
Most Rev. Peter Machado- Archbishop of Bangalore