Why are you targeting only Christians? We are patriotic people: Bengaluru archbishop Peter Machado
The decision of the Karnataka government to survey churches and the functioning of Christian missionaries have created resentment among the community and drawn criticism from Opposition parties.
Bengaluru archbishop Peter Machado spoke to Asianet Newsable on the subject and wondered why was there a need to call for this survey when the minority department of the state assembly already had the data being sought.
Condemning the government decision, Archbishop Machado said that It is not a wise move to target only the Christian community when they (state government) already have information that there are 1790 churches in the state.
The Archbishop condemned the conversion bogey being raised by some smaller groups.
"Anything that is done by force and in fraudulent methods is not good. I have made statements condoning forceful and deceitful conversions. But Article 25 in the Constitution says that I can speak about my religion. I can speak outside bravely. And there is a word in the Constitution that says that we can propagate our religion. When the Constitution itself gives us freedom, why are these small groups making noise about the conversion bogey? I don't think it is so easy to convert a person," the Archbishop said.
"We are running so many schools and institutions. In Bengaluru, we have more than one lakh children in our schools. if there is a complaint of even one child that is being converted, I will close that school or institution," he added.
Archbishop Machado further claimed that the new government directive was aimed at targeting the Christian community.
"Is this same standard being applied to all communities? Are you making a list of places of worship in other communities? Why are you targeting only the Christians? We are a soft target. We are peace-loving people. We will not go and damage anything. We will not go and protest. We take candle-light processions whenever something goes wrong. And remember, we are patriotic people. We love our country. We love our motherland. And we will be anything you ask of us. Please trust us," he said.
"Some fundamentalist groups are trying to influence him (the chief minister) and he is succumbing to the pressure of these groups which is not a goof thing," the priest added.