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Archbishop of Uttar Pradesh denies false claims against Christians
Thursday, February 6, 2020, 2:45 (IST)
The archbishop of Uttar Pradesh publicly denied the Hindu nationalist organization's accusations of forced conversions against Christians in the state.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) earlier said that it had identified Christian missionaries being involved in forced conversions in around 30 places in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
The organisation said it would reconvert people back to Hinduism by leading a door-to-door campaign in the state.
Bishop Gerald John Mathias' public statement came a few days after the radical Hindu nationalists claimed that Christians are involved in forced conversions in Uttar Pradesh, Crux reported.
"I deny this report, that forced conversion is taking place in Uttar Pradesh or anywhere in India. Any conversion is voluntary, and everyone has the freedom to follow the religion of his own choice," Bishop Mathias told Crux.
"Christians in India have constitutional guarantees to practice our faith, share the Good News and the message of Christ, which is for all humanity. This is not conversion nor is anyone forced," he continued.
"At Christmas thousands of non-Christians come to our Churches and chapels to visit our cribs and light candles at the grottos. No one has invited them. They come on their own; thousands of families too with little infants come to the cribs during the Christmas season," the bishop added..
"Our churches and convention centers are open to everyone, all are welcome, we do not stop anyone coming to our churches. I categorically deny the false allegations of forced conversion."
Uttar Pradesh is the most populated state in India and has about 350,000 Christians living in it. Radical Hindus in the region often use forced conversions as a reason to accuse Christians, and even the local authorities are often seen siding the perpetrators of violence, which is increasing the number of attacks on religious minorities in the state.