Wednesday, Jun 29, 2022
Outlook.com
Opinion

India's Forgotten Gospel Of Fraternity

The battle to be joined is one against inequality, not changing one's faith.

India's Forgotten Gospel Of Fraternity
illustration by Jayachandran
India's Forgotten Gospel Of Fraternity
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

The ordinance does what the law of the land substantively provides. It bars conversion by force, fraud or allurement by which is meant temptation, material benefits or gratification in cash or otherwise. Any conversion must be notified to the district magistrate (DM) in a prescribed form. In other words, the State is being empowered to regulate faith and to certify who may change his religious belief, with DMs being called upon to assume the role of national conscience-keepers or a thought police. The Tamil Nadu law mandates registration of religion by the state, whereas secularism, enjoining separation of state from church, is a "basic feature" of the Constitution.

Article 25 provides that, "subject to public order, morality and health", all persons are "equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion". Faith may be propagated; but conversion only takes place if and when the recipient of evangelical attention voluntarily gives up one faith for another. For the State to insist on a residual power of certification is surely an assault on the fundamental right to freedom of conscience, which is essentially the right of the converted and not of the converter. The Tamil Nadu enactment subverts the basic democratic principles of persuasion and consent while enabling political busybodies to raise a hue and cry, questioning the citizen's freedom of choice.

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