Christians in India protest government plan to amend anti-conversion law

.- Church leaders and others in Gujarat have protested the western Indian state government's move to amend and pass a law that regulates religious conversions, UCAN reports.

Archbishop Fernandes of Gandhinagar and Bishop Thomas Macwan of Ahmedabad submitted a memorandum to the state governor Sept. 20 to express the community's fear that the law would be misused; they urged him not to sign the amendment.

Archbishop Fernandes called the enactment of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act of 2003 and its amendment “frivolous exercises.”  Though the legislature passed the law and the governor signed it, the law was not published in the official gazette, which means it is not yet in effect.

The law requires citizens to request permission from a district magistrate to convert from one religion to another.

It also imposes three years' imprisonment and a fine of up to 100,000 rupees (US$2,100) for anyone found guilty of converting someone else "by use of force or any fraudulent means," terms which are to be judged by the government’s courts.  If the converted person is a minor, woman, or member of a dalit (low caste) or tribal community, the jail term can be up to four years.

The state's pro-Hindu government introduced a bill Sept. 19 to amend the law in order to clear certain confusions regarding forced conversion and who should apply for permission to convert from one religion to another.

The amendment says "to convert means to make one person renounce one religion and adopt another; but does not include one who renounces one denomination and adopts another denomination of the same religion."

The amendment allows people to change from one sect to another under the same religion without permission. This would mean a Protestant can freely change to Catholicism or a Shia Muslim become a Sunni Muslim.

However, the amendment also categorizes Buddhists and Jains with Hindus, so changing from one of these religions to another is not considered conversion.

Samson Christian, joint secretary of the ecumenical All India Christian Council, says the law contradicts the country's constitution that allows people to choose their religion.

The archbishop said the governor has asked the Church leaders to submit a detailed report on how the amendment would violate human rights and hinder religious liberty. "We will submit a report within 10 days," he added.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (world Hindu Council), however, welcomed the amendment as a good means to keep tabs on Christian evangelization efforts in tribal areas.

The law will spoil the Vatican plans "to capture the vulnerable Hindus," added Jaydeep Patel, the group’s general secretary.

The pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian people's party) rules Gujarat. Many view it as the political arm of groups that want to make India a Hindu theocratic state.

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic

Liturgical Calendar

April 20, 2014


All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 24:13-35


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Second Reading:: Col 3:1-4
Gospel:: Jn 20:1-9

Homily of the Day

Lk 24:13-35


Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
Text only

Follow us: