Saturday, October 19, 2002


The following Ordinance, which was promulgated by the Governor on the 5th October 2002 is hereby published for general information: -


An Ordinance to provide for prohibition of conversion from one religion to another by the use of force or allurement or by fraudulent means and for matters incidental thereto: -

Within the Legislative Assembly of the State is not in session and the Governor of Tamil Nadu is satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action for the purpose hereinafter appearing,

Now, THEREFORE, in exercise of the powers conferred by Clause (1) of Article 213 of the Constitution, the Governor hereby promulgates the following Ordinances: -

1. (1) This Ordinance may be called the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion Ordinance,002. (2) It shall come into force at once.

2. In this Ordinance, unless the context otherwise requires: -
(a) ³allurement² means offer of any temptation in the form of:
(i) any gift or gratification either in cash or kind;
(ii) grant of any material benefit, either monetary or otherwise;
(b) ³convert² means to make one person to renounce one religion and adopt another religion.
³force² include a show of force of a threat of injury of any kind including threat of divine displeasure or social ex-communication:
(c) ³fraudulent means² includes misrepresentation or any other fraudulent contrivance:
(d) ³minor² means a person under eighteen years of age.

3. No person shall convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any person from one religion to another by the use of force or by allurement or by any fraudulent means nor shall any person abet any such conversion.

4. Whoever contravenes the provisions of section 3 shall without prejudice to any civil liability, be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and also be liable to fine which may extend to fifty thousand rupees.
Provided that whoever contravenes the provisions of section 3 in respect of a minor, a woman or a person belonging to Schedule Caste or Scheduled Tribe shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to four years and also be liable to fine which may extend to one lakh rupees.

5. (1) Whoever converts any person from one religion to another either by performing any ceremony by himself for such conversion as a religious priest or by taking part directly or indirectly in such ceremony shall within such period as may be prescribed, send an intimation to the District Magistrate of the district in which the ceremony has taken place of the fact of such conversion in such form as may be prescribed.

(2) Whoever fails, without sufficient cause, to comply with the provisions of sub-section (1), shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees or with both.
6. No prosecution for an offence under this Ordinance shall be instituted except by or with the previous sanction of the District Magistrate or such other authority, not below the rank of a District Revenue Officer, as may be authorised by him in that behalf.
7. (1) The State Government may make rules for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this Ordinance.

(2) Every rule made under this Ordinance shall as soon as possible after it is made be placed on the table of the Legislative Assembly, and if before the expiry of the session in which it is so placed or the next session, the Assembly makes any modification in any such rule or the Assembly decides that the rule should not be made, the rule shall thereafter have effect only in such modified form, or be of no effect, as the case may be, so, however, that any such modification or annulment shall be without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under that rule.
5th October, 2002
Five 'Mysteries of Light' Added to Rosary

Vatican City 19 Oct.

The greatest novelty in Pope John Paul II's new apostolic letter on the rosary is the proposal to include five additional mysteries in the Marian prayer, Zenit reports October 16.

Explaining his decision in his Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae (The Rosary of the Virgin Mary), the Pope describes the rosary as a "compendium of the Gospel" oriented to the "contemplation of Christ's face" through Mary's eyes and the repetition of the Hail Mary."

Up until now, the 15 mysteries of the rosary - the joyful, sorrowful and glorious - lacked decisive moments in Christ's public life, the Pope explains. Because of this, the Pope says in No. 19 of the apostolic letter, that "while left to the freedom of individuals and communities," he suggests the inclusion of "the mysteries of Christ's public ministry between his Baptism and his Passion."

The Pope explains that he calls them "the mysteries of light" because Christ in his public life manifests himself as the "mystery of light": "'While I am in the world, I am the light of the world' (John 9:5)."

The new five mysteries of light are:

1.. His baptism in the Jordan
2.. His self-manifestation at the wedding of Cana
3.. His proclamation of the Kingdom of God, with his call to conversion
4.. His transfiguration
5.. His institution of the Eucharist, as the sacramental expression of the paschal mystery.

The Pope suggests that the luminous mysteries be prayed on Thursdays.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Tamil Nadu Anti-Conversion Ordinance Sparks More Protests

In order express solidarity with the Christians in Tamil Nadu in opposing the "draconian" ordinance against conversion promulgated by that Government October 5, the Archdiocese of Bangalore has requested its priests, religious and the laity to observe October 19 as a day of prayer and fasting.

In a letter October 14, Fr. T. Jabamalai, Vicar General of Bangalore, has requested "all the parish priests of his diocese to organise special prayers and fasting in their respective parishes and mobilise as many people as possible to participate in a silent protest at the Victoria Statue near Cubbon Park, October 19."

Fr. Jabamalai's letter said that the ordinance, "motivated by the fascist forces, aims at paralyzing the life and ministry of Christianity in India." "That is why the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad have welcomed the ordinance and have asked the Centre and the other States to come up with similar laws."

The letter further said that "this ordinance is totally ambiguous and like the TADA and POTA (anti-terrorism Acts), it can be easily misused to terrorise the minority communities."

In view of organising the silent protest meeting October 19, the Bangalore Archdiocese has arranged a meeting of principals of Church-run schools and colleges, and heads of religious institutions, including seminaries in Bangalore, October 17 at the Jesuit-run Indian Social Institute here.

The letter informed that the Christian Churches, minority communities, Dalit and human rights organisations in Tamil Nadu would also observe October 19 as a day of fasting.

Muslims Conduct Ganesh Puja in Orissa

Lord Ganesh is no longer a deity for Hindus alone in Orissa. A mosque is now constructed as a marquee at the puja pandal and the Quran is chanted during the procession for immersion of the idol! Orissa Muslims have been celebrating Ganesh puja for the last 10 years in Bhubaneswar in a rare show of communal amity.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

28 Week, Thursday, Year II

First Reading: Eph. 1:1, 3-10
Gospel: Lk 11: 47 – 54

During the public ministry of Jesus rarely do we find Jesus turn wild and angry. Jesus’ righteous anger has two purposes: Positively to state the role of religion and spirituality and negatively to condemn the self-righteousness of the Scribes, Pharisees and Lawyers.

Throughout the public ministry, Jesus preached and taught that religion and spirituality is a matter of relationship, and not a set of dogmas and rituals. He showed how to relate on the one hand with God the Father and on the other with his brothers and sisters. If such was Jesus’ vision about religion and spirituality then Christianity, which is founded after his name, must be a religion of relationship. The center of this relationship is the person of Christ. The Trinitarian God is based on this relationship and the followers of Christ are supposed to duplicate this relationship in dealing with other brothers and sisters.

Dogmas and theologies are useful – it makes us knowledgeable. But the moment we collectively and individually hold on to them as end in themselves, the spirit of religion and spirituality is bound to be lost. This is the curse of our times, when priests – Christians and Hindus, Mullahs – tend to become more rigid about dogmas and rituals. In Jesus’ time the so-called higher ups in the Jewish society, mainly the priests were rigid about practices and observances. No wonder Jesus burns with anger at them. “A curse is on you, teachers of the Law, for you have taken the key of knowledge. You yourself have not entered, and you prevented others from entering.” In our own Indian tradition the Brahmins took away the key of knowledge. Only they had the monopoly of truth over the Vedas.

Secondly, if anything that Jesus was vehemently against, it is the self-righteousness of the Scribes, Pharisees and Lawyers. In the last few days we have been hearing in the gospels about Jesus’ strong attack on them. For instance, today’s gospel begins with Jesus telling them, “A curse is on you, for you build memorials to the prophets your ancestors killed.” Prophets were those sent by God to correct these people and teach them the right path to God. But they would not listen. Because they thought they were self-sufficient. They knew everything. This was their attitude to Jesus too, the greatest of all the teachers.

Self-righteousness is perhaps the greatest sin, which even Jesus refused to pardon, but condemned outrightly and vehemently. Now there are many types of self-righteous attitudes. But perhaps the most serious one is religious self-righteousness, where by one takes God and religion as guarantee to justify what one is doing. The fundamentalists in every religion has such self-righteous attitude, so much so even killing someone for the sake of God and Religion is perfectly justified. The ancestors of the Scribes, Pharisees and the Lawyers killed the prophets, again in the name of religion. Today we ask the Lord to purify our own view of religion and spirituality and free us from self-righteousness, specially the religious kind.

Monday, October 14, 2002

CBCI Supports TNCBC Stand against Ordinance Banning Conversion

President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), Archbishop Cyril Mar Baselios, has strongly supported the stand of the Tamil Nadu Catholic Bishops' Council (TNCBC), against the anti-conversion ordinance promulgated by the Tamil Nadu Government, October 5.

He said, "the Tamil Nadu Government seems to overlook the fact that religious conversion can never be forced." He appealed to the State Government to repeal the ordinance immediately "to avoid undesirable and unnecessary reactions from the general public and the Christians in particular."

TNCBC president, Archbishop Arul Das James of Madras-Mylapore, October 7 strongly protested against the ordinance and termed it "distressing and disappointing."

In a press statement issued in Chennai October 7, Archbishop James said the entire minority community and especially the Christians were "greatly shocked at, distressed and disappointed with the ordinance."

He said Christians did not believe in forcible conversions at all and if the conversion is under force or coercion, it is invalid under Christian law.

Archbishop James further said that the ordinance on forced conversion was an attempt to harass the minorities in the name of some unfounded and unverified reports and the "forced conversion phobia."

"While the Catholics are serving the people through their educational institutions, hospitals and social service societies, irrespective of caste or religion, this ordinance is offending their goodwill, casting unwarranted aspersions among the peace-loving fraternity of Tamil Nadu," the statement said.

It added that the "ordinance militates against the secular spirit of the Indian Constitution, indirectly threatening the religious freedom enshrined in it."

The Catholic Bishops of Tamil Nadu have appealed to the Tamil Nadu Government to repeal the ordinance with immediate effect. "Otherwise the Christians might be constrained to mobilise the people and protest through different means against the legislation."

Sunday, October 13, 2002

RSS for law banning conversions

Nagpur, 14 October

With an apparent intention of putting the issue of religious conversion in national as well as international agenda again, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief K S Sudershan called for a central legislation banning conversion in India. Sudarshan said the Government of India should move a legislation for an outright ban on religious conversions through coersion or involving use of unfair means like doling out favours.

Similarly, the RSS chief also stressed the need for redefining the tenents of Islam and Christianity. “Wrong interpretation of some of the tenets of both the religions has given rise to religious fundamentalism, terrorism, and coercive conversion. Time has come for redefining the tenets of both the religions and doing away with those doctrines that are out of sync with the modern world to restore peace in the world,” Sudershan said.

Sudershan was addressing the Vijayadashmi rally of RSS on the sprawling Reshimbagh Ground, the RSS Headquarters in Nagpur. Around 10,000 RSS volunteers dressed up in the organization’s uniform and some 4,000 people including the invitees attended the RSS’ biggest annual exercise.

Alleging that Christian missionaries are indulging in conversions with a political objective, Sudershan said once a Hindu is converted to Christianity, he simultaneously becomes an anti-national. “Some misguided Muslims talk of converting entire globe to Islam but they do not know the basic tenets of their religion. Some progressive Muslims are already in the process of dumping outdated customs and doctrines. Muslims in India and their leaders should take cue from this,” he said.

Sudershan said the same theory applied to some misguided Christians who are brazenly indulging in conversion through cooercion. “They have strayed from the basic principles that the Church preaches. Why shouldn’t they understand their religion first in a better way before reaching out to people of other religions? Perhaps the Churches in India receving foreign funds would not like to redefine their religion,” he said.

The RSS chief was all praise for state governments of Tamil Nadu, Madhaya Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh, who have passed anti-conversion legislations. Taking a dig at missionaries who he claimed are undeterred by such legislations, Sudershan said the missionaries have threatened to withdraw all humanitarian services they have extended across in India if they are not allowed to carry out conversions. “Let them withdraw all services projects. We will run them,” he said.