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Indian Archbishop raises voice against anti-conversion bill

Peter Machado, Archbishop of Bangalore

Peter Machado, Archbishop of Bangalore, expressed his opposition to the anti-conversion bill while attending a function to felicitate Baselios Marthoma Mathews III, the Catholicos of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, in Bengaluru, India.

“I will continue to provide education and healthcare to Dalits and the marginalized even if a case is filed against me accusing me of conversion,” Archbishop Machado said.

He said, "No government can stop us from doing good works; no one can challenge us.”

In a challenge to the government, the prelate demanded data on the number of children converted through Christian educational institutions.

As Karnataka's Assembly elections approach, the Archbishop's speech reflects the community's views on the ruling party and the government's anti-Christian policies. 

The Archbishop of Bengaluru slammed the fundamentalists for spreading fake news and playing petty politics at Clarence School in Bengaluru.

As head of the All Karnataka United Christian Forum for Human Rights, he said the anti-conversion law was "dangerous" and a "sad chapter for the Christian community."

Moreover, he appealed to Basavaraj Bommai, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, not to promote the "undesirable and discriminatory" bill.

In December 2021, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government introduced a bill against conversion in the Karnataka assembly, sparking controversy. The state of Karnataka was the latest to pass legislation prohibiting conversions.

In accordance with the proposed law, complaints about conversions can be filed by family members of the person undergoing conversion, by someone close to the person receiving conversion, or even by a colleague.

The offence is non-bailable. 

If a person violates the law in the general category, he or she will face a jail term of three to five years and a fine of Rs 25000 ($305.73). If they convert minors, women, and members of Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), they will face a jail sentence of three to ten years and a fine of Rs 50,000 ($611.46).

 - by Anbu Selvam


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