Bengaluru archbishop urges Governor not to give nod to anti-conversion Bill
BENGALURU: Archbishop of Bengaluru Peter Machado on Monday met Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot and appealed to him to refrain from giving assent to the Protection of Religious Freedom Bill or anti-conversion Bill, proposed by the state government, saying such laws would infringe on the rights of citizens, especially from the minority community.
He said that it is a matter of great concern that the anti-conversion Bill would become a tool for fringe elements to take law into their own hands, and vitiate the atmosphere with provocations, false accusations and communal unrest in an otherwise peaceful state.
He said, “The entire Christian community in Karnataka opposes the proposal of the Bill in one voice and questions the need for such an exercise when sufficient laws and court directives are in place to monitor any aberration of the existing laws. The Indian Constitution Article 25 clearly says, ‘Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion subject to public order, morality and health’.”
He said, “The Backward Classes and Minorities Welfare Departments of government of Karnataka had earlier issued an order to conduct a survey of both official and non-official Christian missionaries, institutions and establishments functioning in the state. When all the relevant data is already available (through the census) with the government, why do we need yet another futile exercise? Why only the Christian minority community is targeted and marked for this arbitrary, fallacious and illogical move? What is the motive that is driving them to do so?’’
He said, “It is a well-known fact that many schools, colleges and hospitals are run and managed by the Christian community across the state and country. May we reiterate the point that not a single incident of forced conversion has been reported so far. Then, where is the complaint coming from and what is the motive behind such false and fabricated news? Let the government prove whether any one of them has ever been influenced, compelled or coerced to change his or her religion.’’
He said, “Lakhs of patients have been receiving the best of medical attention and treatment from Christian-run hospitals, healthcare centres and rehabilitation centres across the country and state. There have been no reports or instances where they have been forced to convert or have been pursued to change his or her religion.”
He said, “The Christian population in the state of Karnataka, during the 2001 census, was 1.91 percent and it significantly decreased to 1.87 per cent in 2011 and nationally, it went down marginally from 2.34 per cent to 2.30 per cent. If there were rampant conversions, as claimed by some, the Christian population, both in state and nation, should have seen a considerable increase in numbers. But the facts and figures indicate that a lot of hue and cry over religious conversion is unrealistically magnified and grossly exaggerated.’’