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 "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine"   2 Timothy 4:2

The Tamil Nadu Ordinance Against Forcible Conversion

By P. Paulraj

The Indian State of Tamil Nadu has now aligned with the States of Madhya Pradesh and Orissa in promulgating the ordinance to ban “conversion” to another religion by allurement, threat, force or fraud.

I quote from Cho. Ramaswamy a political satirist and a devoted Hindu who says, “I do not agree with those who say that the Christian missionaries are doing service in the fields of health and education, only with the view to converting Hindus. I don’t agree with such an opinion. They are doing a lot of exemplary service without thinking of converting anybody……..It is possible that chief minister J.Jayalalithaa has a political motive in introducing the law. It could be an attempt to steal the Hindu vote from the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP-India's ruling political party). But as far as Tamil Nadu is concerned the BJP does not seem to have a lot of support. So, there is no lot to steal from. Perhaps she feels that the majority community will feel secure under her regime, if she gives them protection. As for the minorities she can always assuage their feelings later by doing something else in a different field.”

Efforts of Home Minister L.K.Advani’s Rath Yatra (religious procession), Gujarat Chief Minister Modi’s Gaurav Yatra (religious procession), Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s frequent visits to various Hindu temples and Jayalalithaa’s (Chief Minister of Tamilnadu) ordinance do not have any intention of helping the true cause of religion. That the politicians attach no sanctity to places of worship is obvious enough from the defilement of the Har Mandir Sahib during Operation Blue Star, the Babri Masjid demolition in December 1992, the massacre of Sikhs in 1984 and Muslims this year in Gujarat.

These are uglier manifestation of the same truth.

The following questions need answer:
Would the act of “annadaanam” (free meals) for the devotees in Hindu temples, introduced by none other than Jayalalithaa, amount to an allurement? Can the practice of “langar” (free meals) in Sikh Gurudwaras be equated with allurement? What about running of schools and hospitals in rural and urban areas by missionaries and others? Is it allurement for Ramakrishna Mission workers to carry out social service in many parts of the country? How does one describe the indoctrination that goes on at the RSS morning shakhas (morning meetings)? How can one describe the Ghar Vapsi andolan (coming home movement) carried out by the Bhartiya Janata Party to bring back 'adivasis' (tribals) to Hinduism, in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Orissa, where this ordinance already exists?

The ordinance runs foul of Article 25 of the Indian Constitution which grants freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion to every Indian citizen.

It also violates the Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice and worship and observance.”

Now ponder over this. I can assault a person against his will. But I can not force something into his conscience against his will. Accepting it, is his choice. If he accepts my opinion at the moment through my instigation, he may change his mind if he is convinced of another later.

Christian faith is misunderstood more often. You may be identified as a ‘Christian’, but you may not be christian. Those who have, at one point of time, believed in Jesus Christ and accepted Him as their personal saviour into their hearts and started living according to the instructions of the Bible are only Christians. So, it is possible and true that the society may identify you as a ‘Christian’ and you may not be probably a Christian.

Years ago, there were clashes between Christians and Hindus in Kanyakumari District of Tamil Nadu. They are not the believing Christians I refer to here or in other words they are not Christians at all, even if they have Christian names and go to a church as well. Because the Bible says “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Mathew 22:37-40)
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil….Live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge….If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty give him something to drink….Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17-21)

Now, preaching about Jesus Christ is itself a part of Christian faith. The Bible in the words of Jesus Christ tells Christians, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Mathew 28: 19&20)

Some say all religions lead to the same destination. A Christian being sure of his Christian life experience says Jesus Christ (and all that the Bible says) is the only way and not all, "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).

This is not fanaticism, it is something like this:
Imagine ants in the ant-hive do not know the danger of a dam breaching to destroy them. Only the one who knows the language of ants and can take the form of an ant, can warn them of the impending danger. In a like manner, God took the form of a human being and lived among us as Jesus Christ and showed us the right way. Those who are sure of this through the proof of their lives’ experience, get excited to propagate this truth out of concern only and not with a view to convert more people through force or allurement or to form a Christian nation. A Christian is supposed to obey, that what is written in the Bible and that's the reason he talks about Jesus and helps the poor and needy exactly, as he is instructed to do.

A Christian I refer here will not revolt. The Bible says, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But, rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. (Violently revolting against this ordinance is not Christian suffering) However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” 1 Peter 4:12-16

All these may shock some ‘Christians’. But I am pretty certain that a Bible-believing Christian knows these truths.

The Australian Christian missionary Graham Staines was burnt alive along with his sons in the Indian State of Orissa for no fault of theirs by people doing hate campaign despite the fact that they knew he was serving the poor and the lepers, the people abandoned by their own kith and kin and left by society to rot and die. One cannot forget the scenes of the leper women weeping and Gladys (Graham’s widow) saying “I forgive them” being flashed on TV the world over. It is time that the government and those who incite hate campaign against Christians understand the truth behind Christian faith.

E-mail the author: P.Paulraj


Related Links:

TN enacts ordinance to prevent conversion    Press Trust of India
Behind Jayalalithaa's Ordinance   Frontline
Religious rights take a hit in India  Christian Science Monitor
Anti-conversion law tops Gujarat BJP's agenda   NDTV

Editor's Note: P.Paulraj is a Telecom professional and a professing Christian in India.
Links in this article are provided by the editor for further digging.


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