Hindu nationalists using anti-conversion accusations to harass Christians, Indian archbishop warns

Hindu nationalists are harassing Christians and other members of the religious minority in India by accusing them of attempting to convert people to their faith, an archbishop in India has warned.

(REUTERS / Adnan Abidi)Christians attend a protest against the killings of Christians in Orissa, in New Delhi August 29, 2008.

Speaking to Crux during the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle on July 3, Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil, SDB, the Archbishop emeritus of Guwahati, expressed concern over the increasing incidents of harassment affecting Christians in the last few months. He said a lot of Christians have been arrested over accusations of attempted religious conversion, while some churches have also been vandalized by Hindu nationalists.

"Even the best Church worker also can be accused of a conversion bid," Archbishop Menamparampil told Crux. "The better the person, the greater the danger."

In addition, Menamparampil warned that any Christian teacher, social worker or preacher can be summoned to court. He brought up incidents wherein teachers taking students for a picnic were questioned while nuns taking nurses somewhere for training were detained.

The Indian archbishop noted that Christians make up only 2.3 percent of the country's population and yet the Hindu majority thinks that these minorities are a threat to their culture when the issue of conversion comes up. He also said police are yielding more to the will of the Hindu extremists and fears that the same thing would happen to the country's courts.

"With the passage of time all the structures of a totalitarian regime can be in position," Menamparampil added.

The last few months has seen a significant increase in the number of violent attacks against India's religious minorities. Muslims were not spared from hate crimes perpetrated by Hindu nationalists. Unfortunately, the media remains oblivious to this trend, Life Site News observed.

While India's constitution guarantees the freedom of religion, there are several states that have outlawed forced religious conversion including Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat. In light of the situation, Menamparampil urged the Christian church to maintain its vigilance but at the same time keep its communication lines open.