Guwahati: Northeastern Christian leaders, representing all the Churches of the region, assembled here on Thursday and expressed concern about “the painful developments triggered by the alarmist news being spread in the society of late in connection with the issue of religious conversions”.
The leaders present at the meeting represented the Council of Baptist Churches in North East India, Church of North India, Presbyterian Church of India, North East Christian Council (All Protestant Churches), Evangelical Fellowship Of India (All Pentecostal Churches) and Regional Catholic Bishops Conference of North East India (All Catholic Churches of North East India).
“The alarmist news that is being spread among people in connection with the issue of ‘conversions’ is nothing but an effort to malign our community, which has rendered yeoman service in the field of education, health and social development to all sections in society irrespective of caste, creed or ethnicity,” Allen Brooks, spokesperson for the United Christian Forum of North East India (UCFNEI) said.
“We have been the first to denounce any sort of “forced” conversion. At the same time, we also affirm the right of every citizen to choose any religion of his/her own choice that the Constitution (Article 25-28) guarantees. We consider it very wrong to make false allegations of ‘conversion’ by force, fraud or inducement with the intention of humiliating our community,” Brooks said.
“We feel that such accusations are made with the deliberate intention of dividing our society.
“What we feel embarrassed about most is that it is the very identity and cultural ethos of the Northeastern region, and of Assam, that is being eroded by people who seek to take their models from those areas of our country, where, unfortunately, communal violence has found ideological acceptance,” he said.
The North-eastern society, Brooks said, has always been open-minded and liberal, with an eagerness to promote enlightened thinking and refined relationships.
“People in the Northeast have always vigorously opposed the imposition of value systems, divisive thinking and narrow-mindedness that are totally alien to our collective ethos. We have always believed in harmony and cooperation and warm-hearted relationships. Our mind has always been ‘inclusive’,” he said.
“In this context, we express our pain at the unpleasant incidents that have happened along the inter-state border and express our solidarity with all those who are trying to settle the problems amicably. We appeal to all parties of goodwill to approach the entire matter with a sense of history and fair-mindedness,” the UCFNEI spokesperson said.
“What we want more than anything else is that an atmosphere of peace, collaboration and mutual assistance prevails among us in these days of growing political and economic anxieties. United we shall never fail,” he said.
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