AIZAWL: An organisation comprising of major Christian church denominations in Mizoram, namely the Mizoram Kohhran Hruaitute Committee (MKHC), met the visiting Union minister of state for minority affairs John Barla and apprised him about problems being faced by the Christian community in states with anti- conversion laws in place.
MKHC secretary Rev. Lalrinsanga of United Pentecostal Church (North East India) informed that a memorandum was submitted by the church leaders during the course of the meeting with the Union minister at the Aizawl Raj Bhavan on Monday.
The memorandum stated that members of the Christian community in states where anti-conversion laws are being enforced have been facing persecution and other problems, the MKHC said. They informed Barla that such persecution of minority religious community is against the spirit of secularism enshrined in the Constitution.
In his turn, the minister John Barla told the church leaders that he would discuss the matter with the concerned authorities and suggested that all Christian leaders should hold discussions with the central leadership about the issue.
The leaders also informed that church denominations and organisations have been deprived of donations due to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.
Recently, northeastern Christian leaders, representing all the Churches of the region, i.e. Council of Baptist Churchs in North East India, Church of North India, Presbyterian Church of India, North East Christian Council( All Protestant Churchs), Evangelical Fellowship Of India(All Pentecostal Churchs) and Regional Catholic Bishops Conference of North East India( All Catholic Churchs of NEI), gathered in Guwahati and expressed great anxiety about some of the painful developments in society in recent times. They drew attention to the alarmist news that is being spread among people in connection with the issue of 'conversion', which they said was "nothing but an effort to malign our community, which has rendered yeoman service in the field of education, health and social development to all sections in society irrespective of caste, creed, or ethnicity."
The United Christian Forum of NEI said it has been the first to denounce any sort of 'forced' conversion. "At the same time, we also affirm the right of every citizen to choose any religion of his/her own choice that the Constitution guarantees, see Article 25-28. We consider it very wrong to make false allegations of 'conversion' by force, fraud or inducement with the intention of humiliating our community. We feel that such accusations are made with the deliberate intention of dividing our society," a leader of the Forum said.
"What we feel embarrassed about most is that it is the very identity and cultural ethos of the North-Eastern region and of Assam that are being eroded by people who seek to take their models from those areas of our country, where, unfortunately, communal violence has found ideological acceptance. North-eastern society has always been open-minded and liberal, with an eagerness to promote enlightened thinking and refined relationships," he added.
"People in the Northeast have always vigorously opposed the imposition of value-systems, divisive thinking and narrow-mindedness that are totally alien to our collective ethos. We have always believed in harmony and cooperation and warm-hearted relationships. Our mind has always been "inclusive". In this context, we express our pain at the unpleasant incidents that have happened at the inter-state borders and express our solidarity with all those who are trying to settle the problems amicably. We appeal to all parties of good will to approach the entire matter with a sense of history and fair-mindedness. What we want more than anything else is that an atmosphere of peace, collaboration and mutual assistance prevails among us in these days of growing political and economic anxieties. United we shall never fail," said the Forum's spokesperson Allen Brooks.