The allegations of forced conversion have no basis, they said.
Bangalore: Freedom Park, a venue for numerous political and social demonstrations, saw an infusion of bishops and priests on Wednesday.
The Karnataka Christian Social Welfare Association is protesting against allegations made by Rashtriya Hindu Sena chief Pramod Muthalik. Previously, Muthalik had claimed that the association had vandalised Hindu idols and wasperforming forced religious conversions
“We would rather be in our churches, but the condition of the state today has forced us to be here,” Rev. Father Cyril, the representative for Archbishop Peter said.
In the protest, the association sought the creation of a legal committee to investigate these allegations.
“The Christian community is peace-loving. We don’t do forceful conversions. If you have evidence, do take action, but to malign a community is unnecessary,” he added.
Several activists have opposed the controversial anti-conversion bill passed by the Karnataka Legislative Assembly passed in December 2021. It states that a person cannot be forced to convert to another religion by misrepresentation, force, allurement, or marriage. It also allows the family members of the converted person to file a police complaint. The bill promises imprisonment of at least three years along with a fine of around Rs. 25,000.
“The anti-conversion bill is unnecessary. There are enough sanctions in the law. This bill is just bringing fear. It is a planned attack andinnocents will suffer,” Father Cyril added.
Previously, Muthalik had made several controversial claims that prompted several temples into chanting the Hanuman Chalisa early in the morning — a move to counter Azaan.
Muthalikhas refused to comment on the protest.
“If noise pollution is such a problem, then there are legal ways of removing loudspeakers for Azaans. Why is the government allowing the Hanuman Chalisa?” Harry D’Souza, President of the Christian Welfare Association asked.
A report by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties states that Karnataka saw 39 attacks on Christians in 2021.
Father Cyril said today the Christian community does not feel safe. “When the church attacks happened in 2018, Yediyurappa provided extra protection. But that’s not the case now,” he added.