- A Pentecostal pastor of Tamil Nadu is in jail for two
days for having converted -
with her consent - a woman of 30 years. Members
of the Hindu nationalist
group Rashtriya Sawayamsevak
Sangh (RSS) accused the man of practicing forced conversions
and complained to the local police.
The arrested man is Rev. R. Reuben, pastor of the End Time Church of Gundur (suburb of Trichy). This Pentecostal Church was founded 30 years ago and now has about 250 members. On 18 July, the pastor administered baptism to a woman of her community, who had asked him to convert her to Christianity.
RSS activists denounced the episode to the inspector Siva Subramanyam, of Srinangam police, arguing that the river Cauvery - where she had been baptised - had been contaminated and that the pastor was converting people by force. At that point, the officers proceeded to arrest the religious leader.
According to Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), what happened is yet more evidence that "religious intolerance in Tamil Nadu, when perpetrated by Hindu extremists and nationalists, becomes lawful if directed against the Christian minority."
In October 2002, the Government of Tamil Nadu introduced its anti-conversion law. The decree was canceled in May 2004, one month after the defeat in the state elections of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), the Hindu nationalist party that supports extremist groups like the RSS. (NC)