India: A Little Respite for Christians

Source: FSSPX News

Supreme Court of India

In New Delhi, the Supreme Court has just rejected an appeal aimed at prohibiting a federal-level law preventing conversions from Hinduism to another religion. This measure is already in force in several states and has been denounced by the Church which sees it as an additional obstacle to her missionary activity.

Will Catholicism be able to breathe a little in India? In theory, yes, if we are to believe the judgment handed down by the country’s Supreme Court on April 9, 2021.

On that day, the highest court of the Federal Republic examined the appeal brought before Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, a lawyer and fervent supporter of the cause of the ruling Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

He was demanding the introduction of a federal law in order to drastically limit conversions to another religion, relying on alleged fraudulent and massive passages from Hinduism to Christianity or Islam, “by using carrot and stick,” according to the terms of the applicant.

“There is no longer a single district where black magic is not practiced, and where there are no forced religious conversions....There is not a week without such incidents being reported in our country where conversions take place by intimidation, threats, by the offering gifts and monetary benefits,” argued Ashwini Upadhyay.

Unresponsive to the baseless arguments, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal deemed unconstitutional under Article 25 of the Indian Constitution, which stipulates that citizens are free to freely profess, practice, and propagate their religion, in the just limits of public order.

“Why do you think the term 'propagate' is used? Why shouldn't someone over 18 choose their religion?” court magistrate Rohinton F. Nariman told the BJP lawyer.

According to Fr. Babu Joseph Karakombil, a former spokesperson for the Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), the decision of India's highest court comes “at the right time, as pro-Hindu groups accuse Christian missionaries of using fraudulent means to convert the poor Dalits [or untouchables, people considered to be out of the caste system and assigned to functions or professions considered unclean],” he explained to Ucanews.

As FSSPX.News has already mentioned, eight Indian states - all in the hands of the BJP - have introduced anti-conversion laws, which primarily target Muslim and Christian minorities, with penalties of up to ten years in prison for offenders.

Officially, these new laws aim to punish conversions carried out by violence or by cunning: in reality, as Christians criticize, they are used to criminalize the actions of missionaries.

In the land of the Maharajas, the 80% of the population profess the Hindu religion, while Christianity represents little more than 2%, in a country of 1.3 billion inhabitants.

The BJP and its leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have placed the notion of hindutva - literally “Hinduism” - at the heart of their political action, which implies the eradication of all foreign religions from Indian soil.