Members of the All Karnataka United Christian Forum for Human Rights submitted a memorandum to the State Government against the government move to conduct a survey of churches in Karnataka and the proposed anti-conversion law.
Leaders of all denominations of Christian organisations met Deputy Commissioner M.G. Hiremath and submitted their objections to these two developments.
“We have noticed that the Backward and Minority Welfare Department of Karnataka wishes to make a survey of the Christian missionaries and their places of worship. This exercise is futile and unnecessary as no good will come out of it. Such surveys are dangerous in view of the conversion bogey and anti-religious feelings being whipped up resulting in targeting of our places of worship, priests, pastors, and sisters. Such sporadic incidents are being reported from north India and in Karnataka. This seems to be a planned strategy,” the memorandum stated.
They also termed the proposed anti-conversion Bill futile and unnecessary. “Some fringe elements seem to be putting pressure on enlightened leaders in the government to bring in a tough anti-conversion law. We request the government to study the situation in educational institutions and health centres run by the Christian missionaries to see if there has been any instance of conversion. They will realise that allegations of conversion against Christians are false as the percentage of Christian population is dwindling compared to other communities,” Bishop Derek Fernandes said in the memorandum. This would also reveal the selfless service that is rendered by the Christian community towards nation building.
“We are against forceful, fraudulent or incentivised conversions. We emphasise that we are lawfully abiding by the prescriptions of the Constitution of India. However, the Constitution in Article 25 (also 26, 29 & 30) ensures freedom of citizen to profess, practice and propagate his/her religion without fear or force. Then do we need any anti-conversion laws as there are enough safeguards enshrined in the Constitution based on which the guilty can be punished. The Christian community is patriotic, law abiding and would like to be foremost in the service of the poor and downtrodden in the country. However, we fear that such laws will only be misused by a few to hound and persecute the innocent. Hence we need support and encouragement from the government,” the Bishop said.
Rev. Nandukumar, Rev. K. Vijay Prakash, Clara Fernandes, Fr. Pramod Kumar, Fr. Philip Kutty, Fr. Nelson Pinto, Rev. Nooruddin Mulla, Rev. Martin, Rev. Thomas, Rev. Cherian, Louis Rodrigues, and others were present.