Bishops object as Indian Court echoes Govt on ‘anti-conversion’ laws

The Supreme Court of India has asked the government to tackle the issue of “forced conversions”, prompting a leading Catholic archbishop to warn that freedom of religion is at stake.

On Monday, the Supreme Court directed the government to handle the “very dangerous” issue of forced conversions, saying the issue may “affect the security of the nation”.

Hindu nationalists often accuse Muslims and Christians of ‘targeting’ marginalised low caste and Tribal Hindus to convert through illicit means, such as offering them food or money.

Several states have already passed anti-conversion laws, which impose fines and jail terms for anyone convicted of a “forced conversion.”

However, Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore said there is a problem with “wild accusations against Christians”.

Father Anand Mathew, a Varanasi-based priest engaged in interfaith dialogue, said anti-conversion laws are used to harass Christians. “The truth is that so many Christians have been harassed and persecuted in the name of this very stringent and cruel law. But till today no one has been found guilty of this. No conviction has taken place,” he told Crux.

“So this is a myth created of forced conversions which is very unfortunate that the Supreme Court, the topmost institution of the country and the judges there also have fallen victim to this,” the priest said.