Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Voting with Their Feet

During an interfaith dialogue in Mumbai, Hindu and Catholic leaders denounced religious conversions and recent anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal district in India.


The Hindu pontiff, Jayendra Saraswati, pointed to "conversion" as the chief reason for the growing violence on minorities. He sought an assurance from the Catholic Church to halt such activities. Catholic leaders denied engaging in any proselytizing and blamed Protestants.

Not every conversion is a “forced” conversion. The term “forced conversion” seems to run the gamut from providing food and shelter in exchange for attending a Church service (or possibly suggesting it) all the way to REAL coercion at gunpoint. If Hindus are being converted to Christianity by violence, this is wrong, according to the Christian standard. Otherwise, shouldn’t people be free to choose between religions of their own accord. There would be no religion, native or otherwise anywhere unless that were the case.

Even if India has a many thousand year history of Hinduism at some point, people freely chose to be so just as later they’d freely choose to be Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists. Even within Christianity, we Orthodox Christians see people leaving our Church steadily for the charismatic movement. How can we blame them if we ourselves are not offering them the depth and fulfillment our Faith is capable of providing? If there truly is no compulsion, then this is the most free democratic result of people being able to think freely. If a religion, Christian, Hindu, or otherwise is seeing people leave of their own free will, then it is that faith tradition’s responsibility to convince its wayward sheep to stay.

-Steve K.