Opposed to a national ban on conversion, the National United Christian Forum (NUCF) – comprising three leading churches of the country – on Saturday said it would ``fully support’’ the Government in taking appropriate action against anyone converting by force or inducement under the ``already stringent existing laws’’ of the country.
In a statement, the NUCF said the Government’s call for a national ban on conversions ``would amount to a direct attack on individual’s freedom of conscience to choose one’s faith and on the freedom to profess, practice and propagate the faith of one’s choice, enshrined in Article 25 of the Constitution’’.
Pointing out that the secular nature of the Indian Constitution with different freedoms was included after a lengthy debate on the issue by the founding fathers of modern India, the NUCF said the churches ``forbid religious conversion by force or by fraudulent means’’. The three churches represented in NUCF are the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, National Council of Churches in India and Evangelical Fellowship of India.
The Forum urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to remind the people that no development can take place in the country if there are attempts to disrupt the communal harmony. Stating that the community has been in the ``forefront of providing service to the nation’’, the NUCF sought to counter the allegation of Christians being anti-national and believing in a foreign religion. ``Christianity has been on this land for nearly 2,000 years.’’
The NUCF listed a series of attacks on the community: Forcing a Catholic school in Bastar to install the statue of Goddess Saraswati, forbidding children to address the principal with the honorific `Father’, burning a church in Delhi, ``provocative call by some fundamentalists’’ to convert 4,000 Christians to Hinduism in Agra, declaration of Good Governance Day on December 25 to ``undermine the importance of Christmas’’ and calling Christians anti-national.
Pointing out that Christians constitute ``just 2.33 per cent’’ of the population, the NUCF said Christmas is the only holiday that the community has in the entire year. Though the circulars asking educational institutions to organise events on December 25 have subsequently been withdrawn, the Forum cited the Navodaya circular as an ``insult’’ to the importance of Christmas Day.