The Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Bangalore (AOB) Rev Dr Peter Machado on Friday opposed the Karnataka government’s proposed anti-conversion law and questioned the need for such an exercise “when sufficient laws and court directives are in place to monitor any aberration of the existing laws”.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had on November 12 said the state would soon have an anti-religious conversion law and was studying related laws enacted by other states, after which the legislation would be formulated.
Over 50 seers of various Hindu religious orders had met him that day and stressed on the need for such a law.
Rev Machado, in a memorandum to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, said “the entire Christian community in Karnataka opposes the proposal of Anti-Conversion Bill in one voice and questions the need for such an exercise when sufficient laws and court directives are in place to monitor any aberration of the existing laws.”Memo
He said Article 25 of the Constitution “guarantees freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion, subject to public order, morality and health.”
Further, Article 26 says that all denominations can manage their own affairs in matters of religion and therefore, introducing such laws would infringe on the rights of citizens, especially the minority communities, the Archbishop said.
He pointed out that the Backward Classes and Minorities Welfare Department of Karnataka have issued an order to conduct a survey of both official and non- official Christian Missionaries and the Institutions and Establishments functioning in the State.
“When all the relevant data is already available (through the census) with the government, why do we need yet another futile exercise? Why is only the Christian community targeted and marked for this arbitrary, fallacious and illogical move? What is the motive that is driving them to do so?” Rev Machado asked.Press-Information
He also challenged the Government to prove that people studying in Christian education institutions and getting treated in Christian hospitals have ever been influenced, compelled or coerced to change his or her religion.
The Archbishop also expressed fear that the anti-conversion law can become a tool for the fringe elements to take the law into their own hands and vitiate the atmosphere with communal unrest in the otherwise peaceful State.
“We strongly appeal to the goodwill of the Chief Minister and the cabinet not to promote such an undesirable and discriminatory bill in the interest of the harmony peace and in the society,” He said.
The Archdiocese was supposed to organise a peace rally in the city but it was postponed due to the rains.
However, over 100 Christian leaders met at the St Joseph’s Indian High School Grounds on Friday and took stock of the situation, according to the public relation officer of the Archdiocese of Bangalore. PTI