Church must resist fraudulent conversion says Dalit Christians

A national convention by the Dalit Christian community urged the Church leadership to stop fraudulent conversion activities in the country especially among poor Dalits and tribals.

The gathering organised by 'Poor Christian Liberation Movement' (PCLM) demanded that church restrain from pseudo methodologies of evangelism and use the foreign funds for the welfare and upliftment of the poor and needy.

In addition, the organisers even urged the Govt of India to appoint ordinary Christians instead of bishops, priests and nuns in the government commissions.

A resolution adopted at the gathering stated that, “This assembly unanimously believes that evangelism cannot be a measurement of a society’s socio–economic development. Therefore, evangelism programme should be suspended for long years and funds should be saved and utilized for the welfare of Dalits and tribal Christians, including the deprived sections of society, to create awareness among them."

For this, the gathering urged the “Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) and the National Christian Council of India (NCCI) to set up a 1000 crore “Dalit Christian Development” fund to ensure integrated social and economic development in the country.”

Over three hundred delegates attending the gathering alleged that Christian leaders including the pastors and priests were monopolizing the church funds and property for their personal uses. This has led to the worsening conditions of neo converted Christians who live in a pitiable condition and deprived of the basic necessities.

Fr. William Premdass Chaudhary, a catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Delhi said, "In last two decades many poor Christians have gone back to Hinduism due to maltreatment by the Church."

Mr. P B Lomeo, a Christian activist and editor of a church newspaper supported the argument asserting, not one of the 40,000 educational institutions run by the Church gives admission to the children of Dalit Christians.

According to Mr. Jawahar Singh, President of Gertor India Foundation, majority of janitors and sewage cleaners working in dilapidated areas are Dalit and tribal Christians. Their children do not even complete their primary education, he said.

In his address, the National President R.L. Francis said that the church leadership is interested only in increasing the numbers and is hardly bothered about their living conditions. The biggest proof of this was that a large chunk of foreign funds were being utilized either for purchasing land or for their luxurious lifestyles.

Bishops are monopolizing the Church estates and treating it as their own property and are indulging in its sale–purchase without the consent of the community, he alleged.

Concerned over the future of Christian children in India, human rights activist Joseph Gathia said, the Supreme Court must redefine minority educational institutions, who do not admit Christian's children in their schools. Gathia even stood opposed to the caste base reservation for the Christian community, as it would institutionalise discrimination in Christianity.

Copies of the resolution have also been sent to Pope, the World Council of Churches, Indian Prime Minister Dr. Man Mohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

Conversion debate for sure has been the most controversial issue in the country. Beatings, abuses, deaths, kidnappings, and several other barbarous acts have been carried out in the name of 'Proselytization'.

Ramesh Gowda, a BJP member from Bangalore speaking to Christian Today said: "Churches are getting funds from abroad and using it to force the gullible poor. Money, jobs, gifts and others are offered to those who convert to Christianity. Does Bible inculcate these?"

"Forceful conversion and allurement must stop. If the church leadership in India fail to restructure their way of evangelism, anticipate more of these violent attacks," he opined.