Christians against proselytism

published on March 16, 2008


As Indian
Christians, we believe that the best and perhaps the only way we can bear
witness to our faith, is by extending our unconditional love to our neighbours
and expecting nothing in return as Jesus Christ showed us.




As such, we
are against aggressive faith marketing by any religious group because such
efforts discredit India’s tradition of respecting all religious thought and
also runs counter to the true spirit in which the Constitution grants people
the right to profess, practice and propagate their faith.

We are Christians. Some of us were born into Christianity others freely chose
to embrace it. We also believe that the Great Commission in the Gospel
according to Matthew unequivocally calls us to witness Christ in a pluralistic setting
without violating the right of the other to preach, practice and profess
his/her faith. Witnessing Jesus cannot
in any case be done by questionable means, whether by exploiting people’s
socio-psychological vulnerabilities or by running down other religions.

Furthermore, we believe the Christian
injunction to make disciples of all nations in today’s context is best honoured
by the bearers of the Good News living exemplary Christian lives and showing
respect for the nation’s commitment to pluralism, for the larger public good in
a civil society.
Conversion of faith, given its life-changing
nature, stems from a considered personal experience and is less likely in this
day and age to be the stuff of dramatic immediacy.

When India’s Supreme Court ruled, in
1977, that a citizen’s right to “profess, practice and propagate”
one’s religion does not include the right to convert another it was merely
reaffirming both tradition and the Constitution.
We believe
that every nation should give primacy to maintenance of public order by
ensuring safety and security to the life and property of its citizens.

India’s
all-encompassing culture and secular Constitution allows not only its citizens
but also visitors the freedom of religious practice. But, Article 25 of the Constitution which guarantees
that right also subjects it to the maintenance of “public order, morality
and health” of the citizenry.

We therefore call on the Government of
India and all secular countries to seek an amendment to Article 18 of the UN Declaration
of Human Rights by expanding it through the addition of a second sentence
(capitalised):
“Everyone
has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right
includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or
in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or
belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance. HOWEVER, NO INDIVIDUAL OR
ORGANISATION MAY SEEK TO CONVERT AN INDIVIDUAL OR A GROUP OF INDIVIDUALS,
INCLUDING MINORS OR INDIVIDUALS OF LIMITED COGNITIVE ABILITIES, FORMALLY OR
INFORMALLY, FROM ONE RELIGION TO ANOTHER BY OFFERING FINANCIAL OR OTHER
MATERIAL INCENTIVES; THROUGH PHYSICAL, MENTAL, OR EMOTIONAL COERCION; OR
THROUGH THREATS OR INTIMIDATION OF ANY KIND.”

While we decry the attempts of
religious leaders and fundamentalists of all varieties to convert and
re-convert, we pledge to work diligently for inter-faith amity in the best
traditions of Indian culture.
We hereby call on all Indians to
join in our efforts to preserve a pluralist India
founded on secularism and religious inclusion and governed by a Constitution
that guarantees all its citizens all freedoms vital to the functioning of a
modern democracy.


Pass this link to Nationalistic Christians to sign the Petition



P.N.BENJAMIN,

Coordinator,

BANGALORE INITIATIVE FOR RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE (BIRD)

7, 4th A Cross, HRBR Layour, Kalyan Nagar, Bangalore 560 043

INDIA

Tel. 080 25455620

E-mail: [email protected]

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