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Religious minorities and the mainstream in a pluralist secular democracy-Part 3

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  • Bar 'Eato Briro Dr. D. Babu Paul
    Part - III At this stage I feel compelled to refer to the issue of conversion. While I doubt very much whether there is large-scale conversion as often made
    Message 1 of 3363 , Jan 14, 2006
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      Part - III

      At this stage I feel compelled to refer to the issue of conversion. While I
      doubt very much whether there is large-scale conversion as often made out I
      have no doubt that conversion in this country�s present context should be
      legally monitored. In the beginning the Church did not accept in its fold
      everybody who rushed in. They had to prove that there was a genuine change
      of heart. The church considered itself a congregation of saints whose
      value-system was distinct. Anybody who thought of joining had to be a
      catechumen to start with: in fact it is based on this analogy that Lenin who
      organised the Communist Party on the model of the Roman Catholic church
      introduced the status of �candidate member� in his organisation. Unless
      conversion is totally voluntary and effects a transformation that enhances
      the worth and self-esteem of the person who is converted the whole exercise
      becomes one of statistical assimilation that really erodes the worth as well
      as identity of the person. The European psyche spoiled the image of
      Christianity in this country. While I certainly admire their contribution to
      our society in many respects their spiritual arrogance was unbearable not
      only for the educated Indians who were not Christians but also to the
      indigenous Christians as evidenced by the strong rejoinders of Paremmakkal
      Governador and, among the non-Catholics, by documents like the Mavelikkara
      Padiyola. The European could not understand how we had developed our own
      myths like the consort of Poornathrayeesan being a Christian woman or St.
      George being the blood brother of Lord Vishnu! I find no reason to object to
      a law that regulates conversion from one religion to another. As I see it
      such legislation will only be a parallel to the anti- defection law. What
      really happens now mostly is conversion within the Church: members of the
      Catholic and Orthodox churches leave to join charismatic groups and home
      churches. If this perturbs the Pope or the Catholicose I wonder why we
      cannot understand when a Sankaracharya expresses concern at the conversion
      of Hindus. Therefore I feel that while conversion should be possible if
      someone genuinely wants to convert it should neither be through coercion nor
      through allurement. I say that conversion should be permissible because we
      are all born human beings and grow up as Hindus or Christians through the
      accident of our parentage- at least to start with. Had I been born to Hindu
      parents it is doubtful that I would have come to depend on Jesus and Mary as
      much as I do today. But we have no right to say that a Marxist should for
      ever remain a Marxist and likewise I must have the freedom to leave my
      church to become a Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, or Roman Catholic for that
      matter. At the same time I would consider it a violation of human right if
      someone were converted through compulsion or allurement. It is for this
      reason that I plead for legal monitoring and transparency in the process of
      religious conversion.

      I had referred earlier to the rights of the minorities guaranteed by the
      makers of our Constitution. These rights are sacrosanct. When I say
      sacrosanct I mean that their exercise should also be as a sacred trust. If
      it leads to corruption or even where it does not lead to corruption to
      alienation the minorities should willingly surrender those rights. When I
      was Education Secretary I upheld the minority right upheld by Chief Justice
      M.S.Menon, but it was I who initiated the control of admission to the
      Teacher Training Institutes run by minorities but funded by Government: many
      a bishop was unhappy but the High Court finally upheld the principle though
      not all the details I had proposed.To put it differently, I may say that the
      minorities should maintain a high standard of accountability and
      transparency. Christians have been called to be the leaven and NOT to be
      empire-builders or conscriptors. If minorities invoke Article 30 more often
      than Article 25 they are more concerned about their institutions than about
      their faith. I used to say in a light vein that when meeting me as Education
      Secretary priests cited the name of Justice M.S.Menon more frequently than
      that of Jesus Christ! Such adherence to the claim can only become an
      oft-misused privilege of the Establishment more than an amenity of the
      community. As a Christian I feel that our calling is no longer to run
      institutions which others can run equally well. We should escape the PLUS2
      SYNDROME!

      The minorities should regenerate themselves and work in areas where there is
      need for trendsetters. Leave super specialties to the less enlightened and
      start hospitals for lepers and lunatics, run halfway homes for those
      ex-lunatics who are rejected by their families, take care of ex-prisoners,
      and families of prisoners whom the society, quite undeservedly, punish
      through ostracisation or ridicule; leave ordinary schools for those in the
      run complaining that they have not got the numbers they deserve and run
      schools for the mentally retarded, physically handicapped, polio-affected
      precious children who are as much God�s creation as the suited-booted-�tied�
      elite who are born to write entrance examinations and IIT-JEEs. Let
      minorities explore new avenues of service as for AIDS-victims, the aged, the
      victims of dementia and Alzheimer�s and the like. The majority should help
      the process. Do not judge any community by its past: crusaders did not
      reflect Christian values, Muslim conquerors did not reflect Islamic charity
      and CHATURVARNYA did not reflect the true ethos of India that is Bharat.

      To be continued......

      Bar 'Eato Briro Dr. D. Babu Paul
      Member Id No: 075
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      Dear honorable members Greetings in HIS name To keep the forum debate s authenticity, we the moderators of this forum, have decided to implement a new
      Message 3363 of 3363 , Apr 1 5:29 AM
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        Dear honorable members

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