Should India Allow Religious Conversions?
Since a long time, religious conversions have become common in secular India. Usually religious conversions are practiced by Christian Missionaries who specifically come to India just to do that. Usually the poor Hindus are converted to Christianity for some kind of rewards such as money, medicine or even food. Hinduism is a non-proselytizing religion.
Article 15 and article 25 of the constitution of India gives everyone the freedom of religion in India but that should not be misunderstood as freedom to convert others.
Currently, five Indian states—Orissa was the first state to pass anti-conversion laws in 1967; followed by Madhya Pradesh in 1968 and Arunachal Pradesh in 1978. Catholics protested against this, arguing that propagation of their faith was an important part of Christianity. Both laws, enacted by Orissa and Madhya Pradesh High Courts were challenged pointing out Article 25 of the Constitution. But the Supreme Court supported the laws saying “What is freedom for one is freedom for the other in equal measure and there can therefore be no such thing as a fundamental right to convert any person to one’s own religion.”
Chhattisgarh in 2000 and Gujarat in 2003 passed anti-conversion laws. In February 2007, Himachal Pradesh also passed anti-conversion laws and now have anti-conversion laws in place to stop forced conversions. As long as these conversions are voluntary, the laws do not ban conversions. Arunachal Pradesh has enacted anti-conversion laws, but its government has yet to frame the rules to enforce it. In 2008, Rajasthan passed a bill that has yet to be converted into law.
All states’ laws are strikingly similar. All of them prohibit conversion from one religion to another by the use of coercion, allurement or by fraudulent means. Allurement or inducement is defined as a gift or material benefit while force is defined as the threat of injury which includes threat of divine displeasure or social excommunication.
In Gujarat and Chhattisgarh, a person seeking to convert must seek permission from the district magistrate at least 30 days prior to the date of the intended conversion. In Himachal Pradesh, an individual is required to notify the magistrate 30 days in advance that he/she intends to convert.
In 2013, BJP had declared that they would bring anti-conversion laws nationwide if they came to power. Amit shah has challenged the opposition parties to support these laws as BJP does not have a majority in the Rajya Sabha at present.
Why should India allow any kind of conversions to take place? We are already divided enough; why should we allow further division of the country on religious line? It is very important to note that foreign missionaries who are in India have only one mission on their
agenda; that is to Christianize the country as much as possible. Why should India allow foreign missionaries to enter the country in the first place? They should all be banned from entering the country.
India is the most religiously tolerant country in the world. But nobody should be allowed to take wrong advantage of this.
The Indian parliament must pass the law banning any conversions from any religion to the other unless people themselves want to change their religion without any outside persuasion. Any person or group of persons who are found converting other people by force or by inducement or gifts should be prosecuted, and if proven guilty should be given appropriate punishment. The foreign missionaries should be totally banned from entering India, period. They are up to “no good” anyway.
When Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was luring thousands of American Christians to Hinduism, Reagan administration prosecuted him on a technical immigration violation and jailed him for quite some time and ultimately deported him to India. It is also highly suspected that the US government reportedly poisoned him with slow poison which ultimately took his life after he was deported to India. The truth will never come out but the fact remains that he was deported back to India on minor technical immigration violation.
We just hope that the BJP government of Prime Minister Narendrabhai Modi gives this matter its upmost consideration and bans religious conversions as soon as possible.