BJP government’s Church dilemma

When I hear the loud noise of  the so called conversions in country  from both the sides of ruling BJP and opposition led by Congress in parliament  it reminds me the days of Atal Biharee Vajpaee government in 1996 and 1998  when the Indian media and western media witnessed a surge of stroies of so called christian insecurity in the regime of Hindu nationalist BJP. During the regime of Atal Biharee Vajpaee infamous Jhabua incident become lead story for months in Indian media and western media where allegations were made against Bajrang Dal activists ( A wing of broader RSS ideology family) for misconduct against christian nuns. The massive propaganda put the whole RSS school of thought on the backfoot as they found them in awkward situation to wash   them off from these allegations. The dust of Jhabua has not settled yet and  new allegations of bringing down makeshift churches and burning them in Dong district of Gujarat  created another sensation. In between these allegations of so called christian persecution in BJP regime Hindu groups courted another  controversy  when they decided to oppose the visit  of  religious head  of the largest religious follower group  christian catholic  Pope  John to India in 1999. Hindu organisation declared this visit as an attempt to push the prosletization process in India on massive scale with the consent and legitimacy of the establishment to get the nod for conversion and make it more genuine practice across the country.

Hindu organisations led by vishwa Hindu Parishad argued that Pope had come to India with a mission to make Asia as his next destination for christianity n 21st cnetury . Vishwa Hindu Parishad have been able to make the visit   of Pope  controversial and scuttle his efforts to start any inter religious debate among different faiths in India and susuccessfully arouse the suspicion on the motives of christian missionaries in India.  These controversies embarrassed Atal Biharee Vajapee and he reached out to Pope himself and visited him in Vatican city to assure that in his regime Christians are very much secure as every other minority.

Now months after the Modi government the same old questions haunting the BJP and their school of thought . Some Hindu oganisations part of broader RSS family pushed their reconversion  programme which they have undertaken for last few years to reconvert those Muslims and christians whom they claim have converted themselves under the allurement or coreceion either few years ago or long ago but they are eligible to return to their roots and past Hindu ancestory as their forefathers were also Hindu.

This drive of reconversion or return of their home has created massive controversy in media inside country and abroad. Christian organisations blame Hindu organisations that they are alluring the people to reconvert or using the method of coercion to reconvert ironically the allegations which have been made against  them in more often  from Hindu organisations.

This “ Church” dilemma is proving costly to the present BJP government as this issue has blocked the upper house of parliament and gave a leverage to the opposition to make its presence felt first time in last six months.

Beyond these political discussions one broader issue is still  untouched and that is how to resolve the debate on conversion. Hindu organisations strongly feel that  before the independence when India was under British colony in mid 19th century christian missionaries entered into India and they defaced the civilizational continuity of Bharat to convert it into india with their education system to the  interpretation of history and even  after independence these missioneries continued   with their mission to de hinduise india and making christian sympathizers into ruling elites.

On the other hand secualrists and liberal elites  in India  term it  as sweeping allegations and part of siege mentality of Hindu organisations to create their support base. Secularists and lberals find these allegations more motivated rather than substantial in nature . This is the bone of contention between secular liberal and Hindu organisations which alienates them with deep trust deficit and both of them accuse each other to breaching the interest of nation.

Nothing can be achieved with this politics of accusation . Both the groups seculalr libearal and Hindu organisations need to arrive  on consensus at least to realise whether such situation arise where Christian missionaries are changing the demography of country . In this issue two things needs to be taken into consideration , First converting the people into Christianity and bringing them into the kingdom of “ God” is basic principle of Christianity and their mission and being a missionary religion it would be impractical to believe that they would leave this practice at the same time the contribution of christian missionaries in education and health care and other service sectors cannot be ignored even if we believe the arguments of Hindu organisations that they are involved in conversion in India, and second, We need to discuss this subject in such a way where the pure religious motive of conversion born out of genuine selfless service and conversion born out  of competitive intra fight between different groups of Christian missionries   needs to be clearly differentiated. In the meantime Hindu organisations needs to work on social and economic reforms to create more parity among society to neutralise imbalance which pave the way for conversions.


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