“Anti-conversion Bill is discriminatory against Christians”; Community leaders oppose proposed Bill

Opposing the proposed anti-conversion Bill by Karnataka Government, Bengaluru Archbishop Peter Machado said the Bill is discriminatory against the Christians, which will encourage the Hindu nationalists to harass the community in the state.

On 4 December, the All Karnataka United Christian Forum for Human Rights released a press statement, stating, “The entire Christian Community in Karnataka opposes the proposal of Anti-Conversion Bill and questions the need for such an exercise when sufficient laws and court directives are in place to monitor any aberration of the existing laws.”

Archbishop Peter Machado told The Hindustan Gazette, “Anti-Conversion Law is a violation of the basic foundations of the Indian Constitution. There’s no need to go ahead with the anti conversion bill as such as it’s discriminatory against the Christians. It also encourages people to take the law into their own hands and there will be more attacks on the community. This has given free license to the people in order to do what they want.”

“BJP MLA Goolihatti Shekhar, claimed that illegal religious conversions by force or through inducement and was rampant in his Hosadurga constituency,” the Archbishop said adding, “However, the Taluk Administration conducted an enquiry into allegations made by the MLA, and found that no such attempts of forced conversions were made.”

“Those who are converted to Christianity, did it out of their own willingness and conviction,” he said.

Reverend Machado said that “it’s very hurting for the Christians to be targeted as those who are making conversions forcefully, which we’re not doing.”

The fact finding report of AKUCFH further read, “If there were rampant conversions, as claimed by the MLA and others, the Christian population in the country should have seen an increase. According to the Census of India, all-India percentage of Christian Population in the country in 2001 was 2.34 percent and in 2011 it shrunk to 2.30 percent. In Karnataka, the 2001 census amounted to 1.91 percent, while it significantly decreased to 1.87 percent in the year 2011.

“Today, there is enough documentation to show that persecution of Christians is taking place in every state and union territory in India. The proposed law will only make the situation worse,” the report cited.

The report said that Anti-Conversion Law is a shame on the secular principles outlined by the Indian Constitution. “All secular sections should raise their voice united on this dangerous law. It is better to foresee communal violence before it really takes place.”

Talking to THG, Bishop of Bellary Henry D’Souza said, “The Bill which is being contemplated is totally unnecessary as there are enough laws to deal with it. Nobody is converting forcibly. It’s only a political ploy to polarize the people and create hatred against each another.”

“In a free democratic world, the people have human rights to choose the faith they want and we should respect it. Every person has the right to choose the religion they want to practice. If they don’t want, then nobody can force them,” the Bishop added.

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