Religious Freedom in India

Catholic archbishop opposes government-imposed Hindu practice

.- The practices of one religion should not be imposed on people of other religions, said a Catholic archbishop in response to a recent government decision to make a Hindu ritual compulsory in all public schools and colleges.

Archbishop Pascal Topno of Bhopal told the Indian Catholic News Service on Monday that he has nothing against Hindu rituals but "people from other communities should be given the freedom and the choice to say no to it.”

The Madhya Pradesh state government announced its decision to hold mass Surya Namaskar recitations in institutions across the state on Jan. 25. Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation is a prayer offered to the sun god and a main component of yoga.

The decision is reportedly a precursor to a new yoga policy. The government said it would encourage private schools and colleges to participate in the program as well.

The archbishop told ICNS that the Church has not received any direct orders from the government about participating in the ritual to date.

Muslims have also voiced opposition to the government’s decision, threatening to keep their children home from school on Jan. 25.

“Similarly, one of our commandments also means that we should not bow down in front of any idol or any other god," Archbishop Topno reportedly said.

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