ancient indian history

Religious Conversions

History of religious conversions

Forced religious conversions, also known as religious coercion or forced proselytization, refer to the act of compelling or pressuring individuals to change their religious beliefs against their own will. This practice has been historically associated with many instances of religious intolerance, human rights violations, and abuses of power, in past, especially during mughal, Portuguese & British era.
Forced religious conversions had taken place in India in different forms, such as:

1. Physical coercion: Using violence, threats, or physical harm to force individuals to convert to a different religion.

2. Social and economic pressures: Exerting social ostracism, economic deprivation, or denial of essential services unless the person converts to a particular religion, for example Jajia Tax.

3. Legal discrimination: Implementing laws or policies that discriminate against certain religious groups and forcing members of those groups to convert to the dominant religion of the ruler, to gain basic rights and privileges.

4. Psychological manipulation: Employing deceptive or manipulative tactics to induce vulnerable individuals to convert under psychological duress. For example ongoing missionary activities.

5. Forced marriage: Forcing individuals to marry someone of a different religion and demanding that they adopt the spouse’s religious beliefs. Love jihad is the latest tool, being used by Islamists for this purpose.
Forced religious conversions are a violation of fundamental human rights, including the freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, as established in various international human rights documents like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This principle asserts that every individual has the right to choose their own religion or belief without any coercion or pressure.
Governments, human rights organizations, and international bodies actively condemn forced religious conversions and work to protect and promote religious freedom worldwide. They seek to combat discrimination, intolerance, and violence directed at religious minorities, and promote dialogue and understanding between different faiths and beliefs.
It’s essential to promote religious tolerance, respect for diversity, and the protection of human rights to create a society, where individuals can freely choose and practice their religion or belief system without fear of coercion or persecution.
Hinduism is an ancient religion with the largest religious grouping in India, with around 966 million adherents as of 2011, composing 79.8% of the population of India. Every year close to eight lakh hindus convert to either Christianity or Islam.
Recently, the Supreme Court has asked the centre to step in and make very serious and sincere efforts to tackle the issue of forced religious conversions.
The Supreme Court’s recent remarks on religious conversions cast a spotlight on the long-standing debate about what the fundamental right to “propagate” one’s religious faith entails. On December 5, a Bench led by Justice M.R. Shah said ​​acts of charity or good work to help a community or the poor should not cloak an intention to religiously convert them as a payback.
In the recent past, several instances have come to the notice that whereby people marry persons of other religion by either misrepresentation or concealment of their own religion and after getting married they force other person to convert to their own religion.
The religious conversions by christian missionaries is also a complex and sensitive issue. It involves the process through which individuals belonging to one religious faith or belief system adopt christianity as their new religion. This phenomenon has been occurring for centuries and has had a significant impact on various societies and cultures worldwide. Key points to consider when discussing religious conversions by christian missionaries:
Christian missionary activities have a long history, dating back to the early days of christianity. Missionaries have traveled to different parts of the world to spread their faith and convert people. The missionaries are often driven by a sense of their own religious duty or conviction to force their beliefs on others by fooling poor tribes of India. They may convince them that their conversion to christianity is only mean to save their souls as they are living in the darkness of hinduism.
The methods used by missionaries to facilitate conversions may vary. Some missionaries focus on direct evangelism, preaching, social work, education, or healthcare while some others may show false & fabricated miracles, to fool poor hindu tribes.
The issue of religious conversions by missionaries, therefore has been a source of controversy in various regions and communities. Critics argue that some missionaries use exploitative or coercive tactics to convert vulnerable populations, leading to accusations of “forced conversions.”
The spread of Christianity through missionary efforts has had a profound impact on hindu society, as with each conversion, an enemy of hinduism is created.
There is therefore a need to check some of these controversial practices/activities like Love Jihad, Use of fabricated miracles by missionaries,  money power or direct threats by missionaries or moullavis.

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