In a brazen move, radical religious leaders of the Indigenous People Forum are set to introduce in Manipur, India new Freedom of Religion legislation, also known as the anti-conversion law.
Local reports state that the anti-conversion law was recommended during a one day workshop on Lure, Proselytization and Constitutional Interpretation of Freedom of Religion organized by the Indigenous People's Forum on June 24.
The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) have come out a publicly decried the advances of the forum, highlighting that radical and fundamental factions of Hinduism also known as the Hindutva are pushing forward this agenda in an attempt keep poor and lower caste members subservient to Hinduism. The Hindutva are also using this as a backdrop to justify continued harassment and discrimination of Christians in the country.
In an interview with The Christian Post, the president of the GCIC, Dr. Sajan K. George, explained the harsh realities that Christians will continue to face should this recommendation proceed forward.
"This is a clear example of tinkering with the rights guaranteed to the Christians. Anti-conversion laws do not stand the test of constitution of India, inconformity with the spirit of constitution. The law in question has direct bearing upon the main aspect of religious rights to preach, profess and practice Christianity," George wrote in an emailed statement to CP.
And as Dr. George explained, this could have serious repercussions for Christians or for anyone wanting to follow the teachings of Christ. It would give radicals a basis to continue to discriminate and abuse converts who tend to be from the lower end of the socioeconomic ladder.
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The recommended anti-conversion laws cite legislation that is found in India, which aims to halt unfair practices that convert the Dalit people to Christianity. While the GCIC strongly condemns forced or fraudulent conversions, many organizations that are bringing Christianity to the Dalit are also providing services such as education and health care while also offering a more satisfying spiritual life than what could be found in Hinduism.
"These anti conversion laws engineered and executed by anti-Christian Hindutav elements, whether in India, Nepal or Sri Lanka … is a ploy by Hindutva forces to divide the masses in their bias in favor or against it. The Hindutva forces with medieval mindset wanted to perpetuate graded degradation in society, the caste system and communal divide," George said.
But while the Hinduvta proclaim they are trying to protect the vulnerable under the guise of religious freedom, they are, in fact, abusing and exploiting the same people they claim to defend.
"These [anti-conversion] laws have a negative social impact on Christians and it blunts the cutting edge of social and economic empowering of Dalit's. The Dalit's want to come out of the centuries old bondages curbing their upward movement in India society" George told CP.