September 26, 2008: In protest of the failure of Government of India's Constitutional bodies to protect Indian citizens - Christians in Orissa & Karnataka gathered to demand ban on VHP, RSS and Bajrang Dal: propagators of communal terrorism and religious cleansing.
The 7 days Sit-in Dharna started today, September 26th, at Jantar Mantar, at 10 a.m. It will conclude at Raj Ghat on 2nd October at 5 p.m. All denominations turned out in big number today. The Dharna is supported by all Christians of Delhi and National Capital Region and other faith communities: Hindu, Sikh, Muslims, Buddhist and Jains in Delhi.
Bishop Joel Mall, the moderator of the Church of North India inaugurated the dharna with a word of prayer, which was followed by a time of singing devotional songs and speeches by various religious and civil society leaders.
The bogey of forceful conversion was exposed by public testimonies of people who had a life changing encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christians who suffered at the hands of militant Hindu fanatics in Delhi shared their painful experiences as well as their hope and joy of being counted worthy to suffer for the sake of Jesus Christ.
Religious leaders from other faiths also spoke of the pain and shame they are experiencing at the persecution of innocent Christians in Orissa.
National Debate on Conversion:
Speakers condemned the insensitivity of the timing of Shri L.K. Advani, the leader of BJP to call a national debate on conversion, while visiting Orissa on 24th. Meanwhile hundreds of houses of Christians are still being torched and Churches and prayer houses continue to be demolished, Advani's call for a national debate is indirectly blaming Christians for their Orissa persecution. It is like pouring hot oil on wound.
The Christians welcome debate for that is the strength of any democratic nation. The debate must start first in the Parliament of India. The freedom of religion, to profess, practice and propagate is guaranteed by the Constitution of India. The individual has the right to practice the religion of his/her choice. This freedom of religion was guaranteed by the Constitution after much debate.
"Conversion" is a political propaganda slogan of the BJP and its member bodies. There is not a SINGLE case of conviction in any court any where in India against any Christian for converting by force or inducement. So what is there to debate about?
Dr B. R. Ambedkar's Conversion:
One spokesperson asserted that Ambedkar's conversion from Hinduism to Buddhism must also form part of the national debate on conversion. Ambedkar (1891- 1956) belonged to the Hindu Mahar caste, who were treated as untouchables and subjected to intense socio-economic discrimination. However he rose to become a Dalit political leader, a jurist and the chief architect of the Indian Constitution. His writings must form part of the debate, in particular his book The Annihilation of Caste and Conversion.
Ambedkar staged a formal public ceremony for conversion of himself and his supporters in Nagpur on October 14, 1956. He then proceeded to convert an estimated 500,000 of his supporters who were gathered around him.
Freedom to choose is an inalienable right of an individual.
Pray, Pray, Pray for the homeless and suffering brothers and sister in Orissa. Pray for social peace in India.
Rev. Dr. Richard Howell
Evangelical Fellowship of India
New Delhi, India
Evangelical Fellowship of India (established 1951) is a charter member of World Evangelical Alliance, an accredited NGO with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations