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PRESS STATEMENT
 

EFI Condemns the desecration of the Church in Uttar Pradesh


The Evangelical Fellowship of India Religious Liberty Commission condemns in strongest words the reported attempted conversion of a Church into a Mandir, allegedly by Hindu groups at Asroi, near Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh on August 27, 2014. Asroi is 30 Kilometres from Aligarh and part of Hathras District.

On the same day it was also reported that a mass conversion of Christians to Hinduism also took place inside the 'converted' Church as a 'Shuddhikaran (purification)' ceremony and a 'Havan' (a Hindu ritual which involves making offering into a consecrated fire), were performed under the guidance and in the presence of many Hindu leaders.

As per reports by the Times of India, Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhaskar and other newspapers, the groups included the Dharma Jagran Manch, which is affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Arya Samaj, Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad among others.

The 'conversion' of the Church included the desecration of the cross, the installation of posters of Hindu Gods by Hindu right wing groups. According to the Times of India report, "A cross was allegedly removed from the church and placed outside the gate and a portrait of Shiva installed." The 'purification' ceremony was also marked by much anti-Christian sloganeering.

It is evident from the reports that this alleged conversion to Hinduism has been organised and carried out by strong fundamentalist political religious groups. It is also clear that this seems to be a part of a larger strategy and conspiracy against religious minorities. We condemn both the act and the sinister conspiracy.

The desecration of the church as reported in newspapers is a separate heinous crime under the Indian penal code as it violates many of the IPC sections. Moreover it is an attack on the sanctity of the place of worship and hurts both Christian and Hindu sentiments.

We have confirmed reports that not all Christians belonging to the said Church were converted and that the media reports are highly exaggerated. According to information available, the persons quoted as converted to Hinduism, were already followers of the Hindu religion.

As per inputs received from Asian News Network, 11 people have been arrested so far.

We appeal to both the state and central government to act strongly on this crime designed to polarise society for political gain, and which terrorises a small and helpless religious community. Christians in Uttar Pradesh have recently faced a wave of physical violence and attacks on Churches and Pastors that have left the community terrorized.

We demand strong and exemplary action that ensures that criminal social cultural and political elements are deterred and the security and confidence of the minorities is restored.



Rev. Dr. Richard Howell,
General Secretary,
Evangelical Fellowship of India,
New Delhi, India


Rev. Vijayesh Lal,
National Director,
Religious Liberty Commission,
Evangelical Fellowship of India,
New Delhi, India.
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