Skip to comments.Pope asks India not to ban religious conversions
Posted on 05/19/2006 6:12:50 PM PDT by nickcarraway
India has responded with diplomatic equanimity to Pope Benedict XVI's seemingly provocative remarks condemning attempts to ban religious conversion in certain states.
The pope had told Indias new ambassador to the Vatican, Amitava Tripathi, on Thursday that the country should "firmly reject" attempts "to legislate clearly discriminatory restrictions on the fundamental right to religious freedom". He had also taken note of the "disturbing signs of religious intolerance which had troubled some regions of the nation".
New Delhi responded on Friday with a statement, reiterating the constitutional "freedom of conscience" and the right to freely profess, practise and propagate religion. "It is acknowledged universally that India is a secular and democratic country where adherents of all faiths enjoy equal rights," said a foreign ministry spokesperson.
It was the pope's second declaration this week in defence of religious freedom in countries where Christians are a minority. In India, the statement comes in the backdrop of Rajasthan planning to become the sixth state to enact the anti-conversion law the pope was referring to. Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Orissa already have laws that bar conversions but allow re-conversions to Hinduism. Jharkhand has declared its intention to enact a similar law.
The BJP-ruled Rajasthan, however, has not been able to convince Governor Pratibha Patil to give her assent to the Religious Conversion Bill. She returned the bill making a point similar to the one made by the pope -- that its provisions would affect the right to freedom of religion.
The BJP has often attributed attacks on Christian missionaries, including the murder of Graham Staines in Orissa, as reactions to their proselytising. During his recent Bharat Suraksha Yatra, BJP president Rajnath Singh had described proselytising "dangerous" and asked all BJP-ruled states to enact a similar law.
Indian states attempt to deny religious freedom, and the Pope is being "provocative" by condemning this human rights breach? Give me a break!
unfortunately this pope is not as well respected as his predecessor
Kinda nice to have a Pope again....
"Kinda nice to have a Pope again...."
Did the Pope weigh in on that guy in Afghanistan who was facing death for converting to Christianity 20 years ago?
One could argue that it is the Vatican that needs to give religious freedom. The Pope should first allow a hindu temple to be built there.
Religious freedom? Good idea!
Hey Pope......how about a Hindu temple in Vatican huh?
A rather silly argument, and the same one used by the Saudis.
It doesn't fly. The Vatican is a special tiny state which houses a handful of buildings. The accurate comparison would be with Italy, which allows religious freedom.
"A rather silly argument, and the same one used by the Saudis.
It doesn't fly. The Vatican is a special tiny state which houses a handful of buildings. The accurate comparison would be with Italy, which allows religious freedom."
The only arguement made by your side is:
"I want to full right to enter your home (even if it maybe against your wishes) also have the right to denigrate and demonise your religion and culture as a form satanic ritual of "Pagans" and I want to have full right to covert you (through whatever means possible) ............. while I will allow no such nonsense on my turf.........because Vatican is a small .....blah blah...."
No takers for that brand of "Religious freedom" in India and rightly so.
Would it be fairer if Italy lets the non-Catholics have a "special tiny state which houses a handful of buildings" of their own, then?
Just wanted to see a reply to this Devil's argument.
And on the scale of the relative size of the Vatican and the country of Italy...I'd say it's fair for allowing the same privileges to India's state that enacted those "special privileges", compared to the rest of the country.
In my book, religion is personal. No citizen of the Vatican should be denied the universal right of choosing the religion of his or her will, or rejecting it outright.
The same goes to the bigoted governments of those Indian states in question.
Talking about "religious persecution", there are many Christian counties where the Hare Krishnas get routinely harrassed, tortured, assaulted and their temples are attacked. This is sometimes indirectly done by the government of those countries.
BTW I am fully in favour of the anti-conversion law.
It helps if someone could get the exact law in question here...I'll decide once I see it.
Theres no fundamental right to convert: SC TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ SATURDAY, MAY 20, 2006 02:11:15 AM]
NEW DELHI: The Vaticans stand that the fundamental right to practice and propagate religion includes the right to convert was an issue considered and rejected by the Supreme Court.
In a 1977 judgement in the Rev Stanislaus versus the State of Madhya Pradesh, the court had upheld the constitutional validity of conversion-prohibiting laws enacted by Madhya Pradesh and Orissa.
The two states, which were then controlled by the Congress, had passed anti-conversion laws in 1967 and 1968, respectively. What the Constitution grants is not the right to convert another person to ones own religion, but to transmit or spread ones religion by an exposition of its tenets, the court had ruled.
According to the SC, organised conversion, whether by force or fraud or by providing help or allurement to persons, taking undue advantage of their poverty and ignorance, is anti- secular.
The court had said respect for all religions was the essence of our secularism, whereas religious intolerance constituted the basis of planned conversion. Given this, conversion cannot be a secular activity.
Besides Orissa and MP, three other states have anti-conversion law in the statute. They include Chhattisgarh which retained the law after the bifurcation Arunachal Pradesh and Gujarat.
Tamil Nadu, too, had passed a law in 2002, but repealed it when the AIADMK succeeded in projecting the law as one aimed at minorities in the state.
Thanks for the article.
Tiny vatican can definitely make place for a tiny temple. :-). By the way it isnt just the vatican, apparently a community in New Jersey doesnt want a temple to be constructed. There is definitely a bias against hinduism in the western world
Hindu temple divides neighbors
In Italy Hinduism isnt even recognised as a religion. So much for their so-called "religious freedom" (which is only for the Roman Catholics).
"The problem is serious in Italy, for Hinduism is not officially recognized by the government. An individual's conversion and name change cannot be legalized. Tax-deductable status is not granted to Hindu organizations"
This freedom should be recognized by all countries.
It's absurd to use the Vatican as a counter-argument for religious freedom. It's like asking for a church to be built within an existing religious building.
The Vatican is a tiny remainder of what was once the Papal States. Italy allowed for a tiny area surrounding St. Peter's and associated Vatican buildings to remain sovereign.
Regardless, Italy does not forbid converting to another religion, which is the issue at hand. Changing the subject does not address the issue.
But the only people that live in Vatican city are the Pope and 920 other Church prelates and bureaucrats. Another 3000 or so work in Vatican City but reside in Italy.
BTW, do you know the old joke along those lines?
Q: How many people work at the Vatican?
A: About half of them.
Italy does not recognise Hinduism and does not allow temples to be built and you say they allow conversions? Who are you kidding?
India has much more religious freedom even with the anti-conversion laws. Anti-conversion laws does not prevent voluntary conversion just that its meant to prevent organised conversion activity carried out by missionaries.
The topic here is "religious freedom" and Italy has none at least for the Hindus.
If you want to put up a pink flamingo in your yard, there will be neighbors protesting it. That's just local politics. So, before you feel all oppressed, check out: Proposal for church stirs area concerns
"The point is: there is no room in the Vatican to build anything"
Yeah right!! /sarc
We have no room for conversion.
" But in Western countries (as well as many Eastern countries), people are perfectly free to worship (or not) in whatever religion they choose.
This freedom should be recognized by all countries. "
That maybe true for Christians but not so for the other religious groups. Especially those who are not people of the book.
"It's like asking for a church to be built within an existing religious building."
Straw man argument.
In India we have the Babri Masjid (of the Muslims) on the land of Ram Mandir (of the Hindus). Many other mosques on the premises of temples like Kashi and Mathura.
Prejudice masks itself in many ways. Cant these people allow ONE TEMPLE to be built. Incidentally bridgewater has atleast half a dozen churches.
When this temple was first opened a Pastor objected to idol worship in New Jersey. I will dig out the link. Very recently a hindu temple was vandalized in Minneapolis.
If there is bias against Hinduism, then try being a member of the Church of Wal-mart.
I am already a devoted follower of the Church of Wal-Mart. Our Church is powerful enough to get local governments seize land for us in the name of Eminent Domain.
Hey dude, your link is even sillier and is pointless. I read through the article and didnt find any significant neighborhood opposition to the construction of the church.
At least no kind comments like "Visual pollution is secondary," and "This piece of land is not appropriate. It's so residential."
Maple Grove Hindu temple vandalized
First, "conversions" don't have legal standing, one way or the other, in Western countries. The discussion of inability to convert was in the context of an academic discussion and there seemed to be only one academic who was the Hindus' bete noire. In fact, the article seemed to be written specifically to rebut the arguments of one academic and then to paint the whole country with his opinion.
Second, Italy is the least of countries that would forbid the building of temples. In any case, I was looking for verification for the HT article and I could find none.
There is one. Do you expect to be free of criticism when you propose a building? In this town, a mall (with less square footage, and in a non-residential area) is 3 years in the making and they are still trying to strongarm the city council into stopping it.
Incidentally bridgewater has atleast half a dozen churches.
And watch what happens if somebody wants to build a 30000-square-foot new one.
a Pastor objected to idol worship in New Jersey
Oh, no. One pastor. Well, stop the presses, we have to stomp out those opinions.
Also a Hindu temple was firebombed in Matawan, New Jersey in 2001. In 2003 another Hindu Temple in Ashland was vandalized spray painted with hate messages.
Which I find to be bizarre, but that's what Mr. Singh says.
You can't stop people from committing crimes, you can only punish them vigorously.
You'd be interested in the rest of the Maple Grove temple story: Teens charged in Hindu temple vandalism
Yup just get hold of a bunch of beleaguered Hindus and Sikhs to make some PC statements to the press in public interest to maintain "religious amity".
I seriously doubt he is speaking his mind.
And also consider the miniscule number of Temples in the US (as compared to Churches) and then consider the relative proportion of those that get vandalised and firebombed......... before you say its all "random attacks".
I never said it was all "random attacks", that's what Singh said. The temple was targeted for one reason or another, probably the same reason the churches in Alabama were targeted.
Russia along with the entire Islamic world has refused to recognize Hinduism as a religion.
I dont know about Italy. US, UK, Canada and the netherlands seem to atleast recognize it as a faith.
"Recognition" again doesn't mean much in Western countries, except for tax-exempt status. In the US, it doesn't take much to get TE status. It's harder in other countries, particularly Germany, but Germany has tons of Hindu temples, according to my search.
As to whether Hinduism as a whole gets TE status but some who call themselves Hindu get excluded, I don't know, but I can imagine it happens.
It should be noted that one article posted from a Hindu point of view actually promoted the view that Hinduism indeed wasn't "a religion", but they were making a more subtle distinction than governments would make with respect to religion.
Anti-conversion laws do not disallow a person to change his or her religion.
They are a misnomer, in that they disallow active proselytisation, on the grounds of prevention of cross-communal violence as seen in the gruesome staines murder.
The pope's inteference in our internal matter was definitely uncalled for ,he seems to have forgotten the fact that india is a soverign democracy.It is the people and their problems that matter here and not the relgious heads.As for me i support the anti conversion bill this will surely curb the forced conversions in our country and give a full stop to those fanatical evanglists who degrade christianity.
However i sincerely hope those real missionaries who holds up the name of christianity through their deeds wont become the victims
Religoius freedom does not mean space for forced conversions and reaping of faith for ransom.
The Goa Inquisition was the office of the Inquisition acting in the Indian city of Goa and the rest of the Portuguese empire in Asia. Established in 1560, it was aimed primarily at Hindus and wayward new converts and by the time it was suppressed in 1774, the inquisition had had thousands of people executed and tortured. Christian missionary St. Francis Xavier, in a 1545 letter to John III, requested for an Inquisition to be installed in Goa. St. Francis Xavier made it a point not only to convert the people but also destroy the idols and ancient places of worship
The Inquisition in Goa, on account of its rigors, was reputed to be the worst of the existing inquisitions in the catholic orb of the five parts of the world, as felt unanimously by national and foreign writers. The inquisition, this tribunal of fire, thrown on the surface of the globe for the scourge of humanity, this horrible institution, which will eternally cover with shame its authors, fixed its brutal domicile in the fertile plains of the Hindustan. On seeing the monster everyone fled and disappeared, Moguls, Arabs, Persians, Armenians, and Jews. The Indians even, more tolerant and pacific, were astounded to see the God of Christianism more cruel than that of Mohammed, deserted the territory of the Portuguese and went to the lands of the Muslims, with whom time had made peaceful living possible, in spite of the fact that they (Indians) had received from them enormous and incalculable evils. In this fashion the fields and cities became deserted as are today Diu and Goa
The inquisition did not punish only the Christians accused of having trespassed, but also Muslims, Hindus, and other foreigners of different religions: they were accused of practicing their religion in Portuguese lands, subject to the Portuguese crown, where Catholicism was the Law. Many were condemned to whipping and work in the galleys, and this fear of being condemned to the stake, often made these gentiles and Muslims embrace christianism as a mode of escape.
I'm not holding my breath. The unstated assumption seems to be that Hindus are idol worshiping heathens in need of saving by Europeans. It's sad that the self-styled saviors often seem to possess zero knowledge or respect for man's oldest spiritual tradition.
The Vatican's omnibus criticism of India's secular credential for not allowing unbridled religious conversion by the Christian missionaries, has been sharply criticised by the BJP and the RSS even while the so-called secular parties have remained tight-lipped on the politically sensitive issue.
The silence of the Indian political class is especially intriguing because Pope Benedict XVI's had virtually reprimanded India's new ambassador to the Vatican, Amitava Tripathi when he called on him on Thursday.
Criticising the status of religious freedom in India, the pontiff told Tripathi that "efforts in some States to outlaw conversions were unconstitutional and should be rejected."
"The Pope's remark on religious freedom is not relevant to India. There is much more freedom here than in other countries. Freedom of religion does not mean conversions by coercion and allurements," BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said. "The pontiff's remarks were "irrelevant and exposed ignorance about Indian traditions and laws," he added.
Asserting that State Assemblies had the power to enact such legislation, he said, "such laws are not against conversion by conviction but if people convert en masse, motives have to be there". In a hard-hitting response to the Pope's remarks, RSS National Executive Member Ram Madhav said, "The Pope is ignorant of Indian traditions and laws. Religious freedom does not include freedom to convert people of other religions using force, fraud or allurements. Missionaries have converted religion into a commodity and are indulging in its shameless marketing."
Slamming the Pope's reported remarks as " interference in the domestic affairs of India", he said, "Before preaching to the Indian Government, let the Pope allow religious freedom in Vatican City." Reacting to the Pope's comments, the Government said it was "acknowledged universally" that India is secular and all religious faiths enjoy equal rights.
Absolutely. This is clearly an interference in our internal affairs. The Pope has clearly overstepped his limits. He should have known India is a secular country and is under no obligation to enact or repeal laws, to it make it easier for the promotion or propogation of any one religion.
He should be more concerned about the lack of religious freedom and increasing numbers of religious hate crimes in many Christian countries. Maybe the Pope can set an example but allowing a Hindu temple in Vatican before pontificating about "religious freedom" to a secular country.
<< unfortunately this pope is not as well respected as his predecessor >>
Fortunately he is -- in trumps!
A courageous and resolute and intact Man of God and a wonderful Shepherd of Men. A Good Priest.
<< Religious freedom? Good idea!
Hey (Holy Father) ...... how about a Hindu temple in Vatican huh? >>
Immediately after you get one up in Islamabad, another in Mecca and one in Amritsar, on the site of the Golden Temple.
What are you all so darned afraid of, huh?