With the Karnataka government planning to introduce an anti-conversion bill during the winter session of the assembly, the Church is organising a massive protest. People are also coming forward to claim that illegal conversions are taking place by luring people, particularly the poor and vulnerable.
Mohandas Pai, Chairman of Manipal Global Education Services, told India Today TV exclusively that pastors once targeted his immediate family in an attempt to convert them.
“It happened to a person in my immediate family. A senior member of my family was admitted to a mission hospital. Evangelists arrived and promised to pay their fees if they converted. They refused, claiming that they didn’t need anything like that. They were then told that those who did not convert would go to hell, while those who did would go to heaven. This enraged and infuriated them all,” said Mohandas Pai.
“Imagine you’re sick and vulnerable, and they come in and put pressure on you,” he added.
“An evangelist once approached a family, saying they wanted to spread good news and literature and make them happy,” Mohandas recalled.
“When the family refused to meet with the pastor, the evangelists forced them to do so because they are rewarded for bringing several people to the pastor to be converted,” Mohandas added.
Mohandas Pai clarified that this is not the work of the Catholic Church, which, in his opinion, is well established and has assimilated into society.
However, he blamed new-age churches, where anyone can start a church.
Referring to the “Joshua Project”, Mohandas Pai said that money is pouring in from the United States.
He also highlighted that the church is opposing the anti-conversion bill when it is not only for Christians.
“This bill is for conversion from one faith to another. Please read the bill and highlight any references to a specific religion. Why are people so agitated? Anyone’s faith can be changed. It is a general law that everyone must follow,” he said.
This only applies to illegal conversion,” he clarified, adding that if someone converts legally, the courts will protect them.
Pai also condemned church violence, stating that there is no place for it in our society.
“The law is unambiguous, and it must be followed. I believe that anyone who engages in violence should be prosecuted and imprisoned,” he said.
Archbishop of Bengaluru, Peter Machado tells India Today TV that, ‘I can understand some people are over-enthusiastic and want to impress and perhaps attract people and if they are against the law, action should be taken. I am for taking action on those elements that force people and surely action should be taken.’
But he also added that the fundamental question still remains and that is the right to preach, propagate and practise one’s religion in a peaceful manner.