'Basavaraj Bommai Emboldened Vigilantes Targeting Minorities': Church Holds Meet

Leaders of Karnataka churches have opposed both the proposed 'anti-conversion' law and the 'survey' of churches.

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Catholic Metropolitan Archbishop of Bengaluru, in a press conference held in the city on Monday, 25 October, said that Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai's recent statements that gave "tacit sanction to moral policing" have "extolled and emboldened fringe elements and self-styled vigilantes" attacking minorities in the state.

The archbishop was speaking at a press conference held to express the church's opposition to the proposed anti-conversion bill and the ongoing 'survey' of churches in the state.

Bommai, in a press meet held earlier this month, had said that attacks on interfaith couples and minority institutions could be an "action-reaction" springing from the "hurt sentiments" of the majority community.

Since the CM's statements, "attacks and persecutions have increased in undesirable proportions on religious minorities in the state", a statement issued by the Catholic church read.

In the press briefing, the Christian community leaders further said that if the Bharatiya Janata Party government introduces the anti-conversion bill, "undesirable elements and fringe groups will target the Christian community and attack our churches and institutions".


Christian Institutions at Risk: Catholic Church

The Catholic church leaders said that the "entire Christian community in Karnataka is opposing the proposed anti-conversion bill in one voice". The government should immediately suspend a 'survey' of churches believed to have been ordered by the Legislative Committee for Minorities and Backward Classes, the group of church leaders said.

The Quint had reported that the Karnataka government has roped in its Intelligence Department to gather information on churches, including those functioning in private homes.

"We fail to understand the compelling need behind such a move. However, if the government wants to do such a survey let it do it. But why only Christian community is targeted and marked for this arbitrary, fallacious and illogical move?" a press statement issued by the group read.

As per the last two population censuses, the population of Christians in Karnataka is small. "If the allegation of rampant conversions is true, why the number (of Christians) has not increased beyond 1.87 percent as per the last census?" Archbishop Peter Machado asked.

The press meet also had the presence of Karnataka Region Catholic Bishop's Council and All Karnataka Christian Forum for Human Rights.

Thousands of schools, colleges, and hospitals run by the church will be targeted if the anti-conversion bill comes into being, the church leaders said. The church leaders challenged the government to "prove" that religious conversions were happening in these institutions.

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