The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA) is deeply disturbed by the forced conversion of Christians in India, under the present nationalist BJP government.
Organizations that are affiliated with this nationalist movement and Mr. Modi’s government in India are creating havoc in the country by threatening Christians to convert to Hinduism, in most cases with an “or else …” statements. This development raises enormous concerns about the internal stability affecting conducive environment for foreign investments in the country.
The hostilities towards Christians has increased manifold since this religious fundamentalist party came to power.
In recent days, several Christian communities are under threat to convert, like the kind of pressure Christian communities feel in Islamic countries such as Pakistan and Egypt. A well-orchestrated campaign has been launched with social sanctions and public debates solely aimed at intimidating a tiny population of Christians while making them feel that they have somehow betrayed their allegiance to India for beeing Christians. It is indeed a sad development in a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-racial and multi-religious country like India.
After Mr. Modi was elected Prime Minister, religious fundamentalist groups are emboldened to harass and intimidate Christian communities even in places like Kerala where Christianity is as old as its founding! These fundamentalist groups have a very simplistic view that the identity of being an Indian is to be a Hindu by faith. This means all Indians must follow Hinduism. For them Faith and Nationality should be one and the same, like the version we see in hardline Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia. The question FIACONA is asking, “Is an educated and progressive country like India, with its rich plural traditions and cultures, really sinking in that direction, under the leadership of a man from such misguided group as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (Nationalist Voluntary Organization)?”
FIACONA feels that acceptance of such interpretations, of nationality or identity, by the civil society and intelligentsia both inside and outside India, is a prelude to a disaster waiting to happen. India will not be able to progress the way it has for the past 50 years or so by intimidating or disenfranchising sections of its own populations. Such attitudes by majority communities have only proven disastrous in many other countries. Even a very progressive, up and coming country like Sri Lanka until 1980s, found-out how destructive such attitudes could be in the not so distant past.
Now that President Obama has agreed to share the dais with the leader of this ideology on January 26, 2015 in Delhi, for whatever national interest he may have, we wonder how this would be interpreted to legitimize the acceptance of their fundamentalist ideology. Is this another Neville Chamberlain hailing the Third Reich for his own national interest? While we strongly support US-India relations and co-operation, FIACONA is very wary of leaders of the international community endorsing (or seemingly to endorse) the vision of fundamentalist forces in India. These fundamentalist forces dream of a religiously homogenized nation at the expense of Christians in India. The fact is that the subcontinent is as diverse as it could ever get with the only binding factor being its culture, not the languages, not the food, not the attire and not even the religion.
Reports coming out of India indicate that conversion of Christians to Hinduism in hostile environments has already started taking place in many places during highly publicized events. These events are organized by the nationalist organizations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) and other sister organizations with ties to Modi and his government. Vishwa Hindu Parishad is one of the sister organizations of the misguided parent organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. This organization of which Modi has been a life-long member, believes that India should be a "Hindu Nation" with no room for the people of other religious faiths.
The clamor of paid media services over the election of Mr. Modi as Prime Minister of India earlier this year, by glossing over the extremist radical philosophy of this nationalist party has already started to cause serious damage to the safety and security of millions of Christians in India. FIACONA hopes that journalists and bloggers who were intentionally misinformed by the handlers of this fundamentalist party now realize the negative impact they have created.
Large scale public intimidations and forceful conversions of Christians to Hinduism started in 1999 when the same Hindu Nationalist party formed the national government last time in Delhi under the Prime Ministership of A.B. Vajpayee. It is not a coincidence to see the same attitudes repeating again when the same party has once again formed the government. Now under Modi, the same divisive forces have come back to haunt with a vengeance. The only difference this time is the help of paid media services and PR companies trying to protect the image of an extremist agenda harbored by this Hindu nationalist group and its current benefactor Mr. Modi in the Prime Minister's office.
FIACONA National Executive Committee
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