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ICC Note:

The Rajasthan government is in complete violation of religious freedom in considering the adoption of anti-conversion legislation targeting Christians when it is Christians who are experiencing discrimination. Instead, the state should be introducing legislation to curb anti-Christian violence.

AsiaNews/ICNS (04/26/06) – An important Catholic group has called on the government of Rajasthan to reject the anti-conversion law “to help Christians to live better and to practice their faith without restrictions”.

The Executive Committee of the Catholic Council of India met in Bangalore on 24 April to discuss the recent approval of the decree and expressed “serious concern over difficult situations in which Christians live in the western state”.

The members of Rajasthan’s tiny Christian community [0.11% of the population] “have been victims of several cases of attacks and harassment by fanatic Hindu groups in 2005.” In response, the government, “instead of arresting anti-Christian violence, passed a bill on April 7 aimed to check Christian missionary activities in the villages”.

Hindu fundamentalists charge that “Christian missions spend their time luring poor and tribal people to their religion, using material offers” like food and clothes. “The anti conversion bill has eroded people’s confidence in the administration,” continued the committee members.

The statement of the group, led by Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, adds: “Christians in several places in India live in fear and have sought police protection for their Sunday gatherings and other programs.”

The Executive Committee of the Catholic Council is a consultative body. Its members come from all sectors of the Church: bishops, priests, religious and lay people. Its aim is to assess the situation of the Indian Church and to draw the attention of the concerned bodies to neglected areas.