India: Where it is a criminal offence to convert to Christianity ...

George Thomas writes in an Autralian e-journal about Christianity and Christians in India

The Indian constitution penalises Dalits who convert to Christianity. While India provides special rights and privileges for Dalits, even for those who convert to Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, or Sikhism, these are denied to Dalit Christians.

In Karnataka, the government has targeted Christian charities which are seen as covert fronts for conversions. Many Hindu law enforcement officials are sympathetic to the Hindu nationalist’s anti-Christian cause. They are unwilling to take action against those responsible for attacks on Christians, thereby encouraging further attacks. The anti-Christian Hindu agenda is exemplified in the various postings on some radical Hindu blogs and websites, such as Hindu Unity, Christian Aggression, and The Conversion Agenda...

Now consider the treatment of Christians in India by Hindu nationalists. An increasing number of Christians in some of the states of India (Gujerat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in particular) are fearful of going to church, fearful of being discovered as Christians. Not only have they been attacked for being Christian, but when they try to hide their Christian identity, they have been arrested. Such Christians have started to change their Christian names to Hindu names for security.

According to the Indian census of 2001, the total population was 1.028 billion. Hindus (including Scheduled Castes and Tribals) numbered 827 million or 80.5 per cent, Muslims 138 million or 13.4 per cent, Christians 24 million or 2.3 per cent, Sikhs 19 million or 2 per cent, Buddhists 8 million or 0.8 per cent and Jains 4 million or 0.4 per cent. "Others" numbered 6.6 million or 0.6 per cent.

But the Hindu numbers and percentages are misleading. About 25 per cent, or 24 million, of those Hindus belong to Scheduled Castes and Tribes. About 40 per cent, or 400 million, are "Other Backward Castes”. About 20 per cent, or 200 million, are religious minorities leaving only 15 per cent belonging to the three upper castes. Consequently the anti-Christian Hindu nationalists come from the three upper castes who constitute about 10 per cent of the total Indian population of 1.1 billion...

Christians in turn have provided education at all levels to other religious groups without prosyletisation. By far the best schools and colleges in India are run by Christian institutions, either Catholic and Protestant, where the student populations are more than 90 per cent non-Christian. According to Tahir Mahmoud, an Indian Muslim journalist, “The 2.3 per cent Christians in the Indian population cater to 20 per cent of all primary education in India, 10 per cent of all the literacy and community health care, 25 per cent of all existing care of destitutes and orphans, 30 per cent of all the handicapped, lepers and AIDS patients etc”...

Untouchability (and even “Unseeability” in some parts of India where the sight of these people could pollute Brahmin purity) was a system of both extreme physical and mental enslavement from which there could be no escape in the Hindu social order. Much of this image was rejuvenated and atmosphere regenerated after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) gained power between 1996 and 2004.

Together with its ideological sponsor, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), and the growth of its radical paramilitary wing, the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS), and other radical Hindu organisations constitute a standing threat to the well-being of about 24 million Indian Christians, or just 2.3 percent of the Indian population of 1.1 billion as registered in the 2001 census.

While allegations of mass conversions to Christianity continue, the fact is that the Christian minority population of India has come down from 2.8 percent in the 1951 census, to 2.3 percent in the 2001 census.

The RSS is the most dangerous member of the Hindu nationalist group. They are anti-democratic, anti-secular and fascist in their ideology. The BJP may no longer be in power, but their followers in India and abroad continue to think and act as before. Hindu nationalists believe there is a conspiracy, especially by American evangelical Christians and the Catholic Church, to convert the impoverished and uneducated 300-million strong Dalits to Christianity, thereby transforming the Hindu character of India.

Their concern is not to alleviate the 4,000-year-old plight of Dalits under Hinduism, but only to prevent their conversion to Christianity by all possible means.


Anonymous said…
A christian who is fanatcial radical would write this diatribe .You belong to the same group and hence you are giving the link.The article is full of hate and venom and ill founded thoughts against Hindus.
jpu said…
either these events happened or they didn't. there is nothing fanatical about reporting facts. i'm sure the Dalits wouldn't mind an all out competition between which religious group can help them the most. but that also means letting go of the concept that they deserve their condition because of their past lives sins.

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