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Conversion is a matter of personal choice: Archbishop

In the wake of recent attacks on Churches across India and row over celebrating ‘Good Governance Day’ on Christmas, Delhi Archbishop on Thursday said that the Christian communities are not in favour of any anti-conversion law as promised by the NDA government.

On why Christian communities are not in favour of such legislation, Archbishop Anil JT Couto said, “Whether someone will convert or not is purely a matter of personal choice, which is allowed as per the Constitution. Then, why do we need a separate Bill for ensuring ‘Freedom of religion’ or banning conversions? Christians are not in favour of any such law,” Couto said during a press conference in the national capital.

Recently, Opposition parties cornered the government in Parliament for allowing RSS and its affiliates to go ahead with their conversion and ‘ghar wapsi’ campaigns. Then, the government had told Lok Sabha that it was in favour of anti-conversion laws in all states and at the Centre too.

“It is a fact that people are being offered below poverty line (BPL) cards and other privileges within the domain of government, ignoring the Christians. This adds to our fear and making us insecure. This Christmas season, we come to you with a heavy heart and great concern. There is a sense of apprehension and fear in our community,” archbishop said.

In the context of ‘Ghar Wapsi’ campaign of certain RSS-linked outfits and declaring December 25 as
‘Good Governance Day’, he said, “It is a ‘threat’ to peace and harmony. It is sad that they have chosen December 25 as Good Governance Day. Christmas is a festival of all and such move by the government gives us a sense of fear and worry. We are not against Good Governance Day, but we are against the day it was chosen to be celebrated.”

While expressing concern over the silence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over such controversial issues including attacks on Churches, the Archbishop said, ‘We have sent a memorandum to the PM but still waiting for a reply. We are worried over the silence of our PM.”

The Delhi Archbishop had submitted a memorandum to Union Home Minister Rajanath Singh and Modi, ‘listing the discriminations’ being faced by the Christian community across the country recently.
When asked whether they will approach other political parties including Trinamool Congress (TMC) to raise their concern - in case they will not get any response from PM, he said, “We have not decided yet on these issues.”

Outside Parliament West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, while taking a jibe at forced ‘Good Governance Day’ on Christmas, said, “Schools were asked to stay open on Christmas to mark ‘Good Governance Day’. They want kids to celebrate e-governance. I would like to tell them (the government) to learn first and undertake e-governance and then ask kids. They are already very smart.”
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