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Church-run schools in India told to remove Christian symbols

A group of Hindu hardliners in Assam state also wants priests, nuns and brothers to stop wearing cassocks and religious habits
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (center) along with Chief Minister of Assam Himanta Biswa Sarma (center, left) waves to supporters during a public rally in Guwahati on Feb. 4.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (center) along with Chief Minister of Assam Himanta Biswa Sarma (center, left) waves to supporters during a public rally in Guwahati on Feb. 4. (Photo: AFP)

Published: February 12, 2024 06:02 AM GMT

A Hindu group has given an ultimatum to Christian schools in India's north-eastern Assam state to rid themselves of all Christian symbols including religious habits and cassocks.

Satya Ranjan Borah, president of the Hindu outfit Kutumba Surakshya Parishad (family safety council) said the move aims to stop Christian missionaries from using schools for conversion activities.

“Christian Missionaries are converting schools and educational institutes into religious institutes. We will not allow it,” he said at a press conference in Guwahati on Feb. 7

Assam is ruled by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

The group wants the idols or photographs of Jesus and Mary removed and has set a 15-day deadline for Christian schools to comply, failing which they warned of dire consequences.

Borah said they also want priests, nuns and brothers serving in Christian schools to stop wearing cassocks and religious habits on school campuses.

He accused them of promoting Christianity in schools through the display of such Christian symbols.

Archbishop John Moolachira of Guwahati said all the allegations "are baseless."

“We are aware of the threat and I do not understand why is this happening,” he told UCA News on Feb. 9.

Christians have been actively involved in imparting education for several decades in Assam’s remote areas where poor tribal people dwell.

“It is a very difficult situation when such open threats are issued,” the prelate said and added that we will explore “legal means to deal with such open threats.”

The Hindu group also wanted churches located within school complexes to be removed, reported Northeast Now, an English news portal.

Christian leaders said they are planning to approach Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who belongs to the BJP.

Christian leaders say threats to Christianity and missionary activities have increased in recent years in the entire northeast India region after Hindu groups began to push cultural nationalism.

The Hindu groups have succeeded in portraying Christianity as a diabolical force to destroy Hindu native culture and to convert Hindus to Christianity.

Christians make up 3.74 percent of Assam’s 31 million people against the national average of 2.3 percent.

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61 Comments on this Story
BR SUNIL
No one can tell us what to wear. Our constitution gives us the right what to wear.
X
What Constitution? They are killing democracy itself.
BRENDA
From next academic year close down all Christian run schools. Let the people who have given the threat open their own schools. If all Christians are united in this approach, you will have success. Why has the archbishop given instructions to wear civil clothes. Don't their sadhus wear saffron clothes?
SANCIA
You are absolutely correct! Support your views 100%
SANJAY
Fully agree Brenda.. why are the Hindus and others who object on Christian symbols and churches etc want their wards to be admitted in Christian schools. Because these double standard cowards know that they will not get the same quality of education in their local schools. They want their children to be English educated and to be able to compete with the world and they very well know this can happen only in Christian backed schools Make it a rule than to admit only Christians and not others in Christian hacked schools..
RENIK FAIR
I think it's because he is preparing for any possible physical harm that may befall them if they don't wear civilian clothes. He is wise - he is thinking of their safety first. Clothes do not always make the person - it's the inward faith that does. Nobody can take that away from them...
SS CHAUHAN
They are against conversions.and you also know that the Indian Christian re converted from hinduism.just check how many churches and cathedrals we have in India and how many MANDIRS we have in AMERICA.the hinduuuus of India were so tolerant that they allowed these missionary and hindu religion in itself is tolerant that people easily converts, will you see any conversion frmthat extreme religion.
IRWIN DSOUZA
Very well said dear, without the catholic schools all the very same leaders would be uneducated
ROSY
Absolutely ????
CHRISTOPHER RODRICK
All who have a problem with Christianity please don't send your children to Christian School.
PHILOMENA
The entire Christian community must get together and tackle this grave issue. There must be a national programme to bring this issue in the focus. The CBCI is a useless conference who are headed by spineless clergy. The entire Christian community with the exception of the chamcha Cardinals and some bishops must be kept aside. We must not take this anti Christion and communal bias of the BJP and it's associates lying down.
AHMED BILGRAMI
We have studied in Mission Schools since Four generations and even today our grandchildren go to these schools. Yet, no one has changed or ever felt like changing our religious belief. In fact, apart from some "Quality Education", we have learnt such "Morals" at our schools that groomed us to be a Good Citizen. The objections raised is nothing but mischief and Exclusiveness. Is their Faith and Belief in their religion is so 'Weak' to be influenced by the attire that is worn by anyone..? This is sheer Communalism and a disrespect of the Constitution of India.This has to be Countered.
ROSARIO GOMES
Well said
A RAJENDRAN
When new Nagaland government formed Christian rituals only followed and Modi was completely witnessing it So why you try to defame Modi In this article
M.SRINIVAS
Yes it is correct
SAM
Well, it is a known fact that Modi politically shrewed and make no comment in such public platforms but his organisation does all thing that he wants... He never opens his mouth to any of the killings and atrocities against Christians. It is a silent nod to do more harm to Christians ????
KIPGEN
We better tear India and make a settlement based on religion, caste and creed if the Hindus want to do whatever they like. This will be the only solution. And we will know who develop fast whether Hindus or Christians..
PAUL B
Independence from Hindu India? Good. Plan your road ahead. How will you sustain yourself, your economy, your exports, your currency, etc. Only Christianity or Jesus Christ will not feed you and sustain you. Relying all the time on American aid will make your country like Pakistan. Do it. Let's fight it out.
UNKNOWN OFFICER
Time to leave the Indian army, and leave India , we are not accepted here. ( serving army officer this side )
YVONNE MAHADIK
How can anyone ask a religious order to stop wearing what the are wearing for centuries. Why are they do afraid of Christianity. The education and service to mankind has been their primary motto. If it's a Hindu organization there are pictures of different Gods. My daughter studied in a Christian school run by Nuns and the pray that was said was the Gayatri mantra. We never opposed. It's is cheap mindedness of people thinking that the Christians are out to convert them. I studied in a convent and none of my Hindu organization Muslim friends become Christians. Please learn to live in brotherhood. Where is the PM? I am sure in a distant land.
ZAN
If Christian convert Hindu,Muslim or any others religion then every single person in Nagaland will be a Christian but, it's not that what Bjp Assam brainless think of, they're trying to bring war.
MAC
Who the hell Modi thinks of himself. Not all states in india will agreed to such kind of childish, stupidity & nonsense rules. BJP-RSS will all go to hell...
JASPER DAWSON
Hindu religion has nothing good to give I guess. If they have anything good let them start their own schools and teach about the good of Hindu religion. Start schools and try to compete with Christian and Muslim schools. Targeting Christian schools this way shows that they have nothing to give.
JEAN
If the BJP-RSS extremist hindus protesting Christians to wear cassocks and religious habits & Muslims to wear hijab then we all Northeastern States in india won't allow the sadhus to wear saffron robes. All sadhus shall walk nanga karega...
DRMIKE STORY
The Vedas & Shastras contain prophecies About Prajapathy, a character who shares many characteristics with the biblical Lord Jesus. Add to that that TLJesus sent his friend & disciple Thomas to India ???????? to share the Gospel before 100AD. Neither TLJesus nor Thomas were white ! Christianity is NOT a white man’s religion and the BJP would do well to admit this. The BJP ( Ban Jesus Party ?) needs to learn from history. When Christians are persecuted … They become stronger & their Christian Faith GROWS. May The Lord reveal Himself to all who seek Him!
BENNY JAMES
It is NOT the job of Christians to convert.. But, the awakening in their Spirits,..i.e The Holy Spirit inside them that yearns and searches for the TRUTH!!! If he Holy Spirit changes their hearts and mind for the truth, how are Christians converting??? We teach, educate and tell the TRUTH from LIES in this world!! Children of God encountrrs with their Creator God and surrenders to the One True God!! Mission Schools Or Missionaries, Saints, Fathers, Nuns and Brothers are not against anyone, especially our Hindu Brothers and Sisters.. But, we cannot be and will not be Dictated!! We follow only One order..i.e. From the Truth because we believe: The Truth will set you free!! The lies of the enemies is so weak that they cannot keep people in lies.. Hence, they are turning to the TRUTH!! SATAN IS WORKING OVERTIME.. HIS TIME IS RUNNING OUT!! Let's stand firm with the TRUTH!! "For us to Live is Christ,.. And, to Die is Gain and Eternal Life"..
PAUL B
There you go. This is trying to put fear of God into the children or the vulnerable. You continue telling them they are vulnerable and their only refuge is Jesus. This is Conversion techniques of yours. They are opposed to these policies of yours. Anyway the power of American dollars is waning. You or your sons and daughters will too some day come out of that some day. Look up Timor Leste where are they now and their future.
BENNY JAMES
For anyone who doesn't understand how God His business, Satan living inside of you will try to go against anything and everything that does the sweet will of the Almighty God!!! Remember Satan is a liar and so are you!! We don't share our personal testimonies to convert.. Rather, all of humanity searches for the Truth!! Jesus is the only Truth!! You cannot enter Heaven without knowing and having a relationship with One true God, but Jesus only,.. Stay blessed☺????☺????☺????
POLUDOSS HECTOR HEMA SAGAR
Indians have stopped fighting for their rights.Except few brave souls. Of course majority on their knees praying to the Almighty. It is ultimate. But we need to raise our voice . We need to register our protest with the government. We need to knock the doors of courts for justice. We need to fight unitedly. God is our protector and provider. ????????
AMITABH BHATT
Vote,vote, like your and your children's life depends on it. This may be the last chance for us to save our freedom. Vote to get the BJP out of power.
JOSEPH
Why are the majority hindutava scared of the minority Christians. You have no right to dictate as how people dress of their religious order. Narendra Modi, be warned.
JOSEPH
Let all.Christian missionary, schools, hospitals, old age homes, orphanages and the dedicated nuns and nurses from Kerala or other places stop functioning. India will grind to a halt. Even Modi will stink
CRUZ FERNANDES
For God sake, if you have problems with Christian school and their dress code. Don't send your children in those school.
STEPHEN BHOSALE
Why UP chief minister wares saffron clothes?
XAVIER'S
These R D End of the End day's by doing like this they have called for thé final days of their survival in their life, those who deny Mee have denied them self in my Kingdom. The lord is fighting our battle so don't worry people of God all is done by his will do it is said and so it will be done Amen
BRENDA COSTA
For most people who are against Christianity... They must not follow anything western.. So start wearing dhotis, eat only dhal chawal and stop educating your kids in catholic schools.. Modi u seriously are doing nothing progressive for india
CONCERNED CITIZEN
Let’s see if bjp will even pretend to help the Christians now that they are desperately begging for votes. I hope all those bishops (especially in Kerala) who were supporting bjp, realise that they will all be damned in hell if they continue to support them. And talk about religious conversions…they are pushing for saffronisation in the whole country by putting up their ram flags n hanuman flags all around. And as if their schools don’t push the gita on the non-hindus studying in those schools. Aren’t they forcing their religion on everyone?! And we Christians don’t even need to convert others- people understand for themselves and follow the one Truth, Light and Way on their own accord. Who are these hindu groups to make such demands??! …we all know they are acting so confidently with the backing of the bjp party- so damn be them all! What ever happened to our constitutional rights to Liberty and Fraternity among other rights….all gone down the drain since 2014! May God work His ways upon these people soon and show them who the Real One True God is!
NISH
Let us not read too much into this. Christians have always contributed immensely in education in India. Never resorted to violence. These are just a bunch of few people trying to create some popularity for their tiny so called group. The Govt is not supportive of this. Don’t take it seriously please.
PK MISAO
Politics should not be mixed with Religion, every religion has to be respect, Why Christains are specifically always targeting
JAMSHED
Religion and therefore God is man made. Instead of listening to nonsense, why not all of us revert to the clothes we didn't wear when we were born? There will be no cause for any objection from these mad persons
SANTOSH
This isn’t a complete news, this news is paddled with a motive to divide Indians. Christian school are run by their respective sects. They are not govt funded. The syllabus is decided by the elected govt n officials. Wearing a dress of your choice is your personal thing in a pvt institution It’s political season Intellects want to divide us to gain votes. Don’t fall for this peddled concocted news or a fringe elements declaration . Live n let live.
SUBRAMANIAN S
This Modi will cause a big problem for Indians in the future . He is one stupid idiot . Being a Hindu , I feel ashamed that we Indians have chosen him .. this is the beginning of the downfall of India
SURESH
It is such a meaningless idea like demanding all pictures of any religious diety to be removed from all shops, restaurants, workshops, etc., Will owners of all establishments accept this idea? If they don't like certain school for any reason they deem fit, it is upto the parents to remove their children from there and admit them elsewhere. It is their right. No body can question it. What right does anyone have to instruct what attire or underwear one should wear? If each group demands like this, where will it end?
ERROR 201
They are done with Muslim's now they are coming for Christians afterwords other religions ITS TIME TO WAKE UP PEOPLE !!!!
VINCENT ANDREW SWAMY
India is a Union of vibrant culture and denominations which make us the largest democracy. No one has the right to split us and create a divide. We all are Indians and we all have rights outlined in our Constitution. Nobody is above the Country and Constitution. Christians are peaceful people - practising our faith silently and giving our contribution in the field of art, culture, education etc as people of other religion. Indians will stand united always and will not deter by any fringe elements trying to please few handful politicians who are manipulating innocent people and targeting the Muslims and Christians. Remember God is watching and his judgement is supreme.
PREBAH WILLIAM EETHIAH
Nonsense, RC have no intention of converting into Christianity. It's a mere education. Dont be fanatic or afraid of being converted if you believed in your way of life. You have no right to stop the religious nun, brother, and priest not to wear the cassock. It has been centuries practice and its a institutional rights. Dont keep your mind narrow.
RAJAN
Lets be fair to all, why do school or any institution or hospitals run by non Hindus have religious items in the walls
PEARL
They have Christian symbols because they are Christian schools. Period. C'mon, of you feel offended of Christian symbols then avoid Christian schools. There are other good or even better schools elsewhere. Prohibiting Christian schools to display their symbols is simply undemocratic, that is, if india is still a democracy as it claims.
SALVADOR
Well, this is a well devised tool to be implemented gradually to eliminate Christianity from the land of Bharat. More than this, the BJP has no other agenda to retain their power. If you watch their campaigns, speeches, arguments, debates etc closely, they always bring in their previous govt, namely Congress to shift the blame on them. Even in parliament the speeches are nothing since they have no agenda but only hollow promises, but blame game. How many of the citizens understand this game plan? I have only one question to ask to all those pro hindu group. The British conquered India and ruled for more than 200 years, they could not make the entire India to a Christian country. Where was the threat to Hindus? It's all fabricated for political mileage. In nut shell the youths and tukde tukde leaders dance according to the politicians without realising that nothing new is brought for the people by any parties, especially with regard to upliftment of poors. Christians are the only ones who brought education and upliftment in India. Jai Hind.
BENJAMIN ATKINS
I highly doubt it as our PM is shaking hands and making alliance with Christian countries to strengthen and raise this places from the ashes ⚱️ yeah.
BR. NARESH HEMBROM
Constitution has allowed the citizens of India to follow any religion they feel comfortable on it and receive favour from it. But why do the BJP politicizes in the religion of the only Christianity. No we should not get frightened but be stronger.
PENELOPE
To all those having problems with the way the Christian religious dress,or what the Christian institutions hang on the walls of their schools, hospitals,etc.PLEASE, PLEASE, don't send your children, or any of your family to such institutions. PLEASE visit only Hindu run institutions and put your children ONLY in Hindu schools so you all all this Christian ways that are troubling you all can be avoided.
ANGEL GABRIEL
Are you, Royal Highness, seeking donation or trying to teach poor in remote areas or trying to do God's command, colonize and spread gospels? BE HONEST. WILL Jesus PUT YOU IN A PLACE WHERE THERE IS WEEPING AND GNASHING OF TEETH?
PROFESOR, RETIRED, CMS COLLEGE, KOTTAYAM
Prayer can change hearts. I believe in What Pope said.Now let's start a chain prayer regarding this matter.
JESSICA
We Christians have lived for a generation 70 years in peace. We have another 7 years of peace the Sabbath years which will be over in 2024. This lent is the same time as in the days of Nineveh. It’s a wake up call to all Christians to turn back and raise your voices to heaven and wear sack clothes and mourn. The judgement of God will be on this nation and everyone you failed to pray or raise your voice when your brothers were being persecuted. ???? Penance Penance Penance ????
FEGGYFEG
this cows..sigh..
GLENN
Why such discrimination amongst our Christian brothers. When they want admissions in schools they want admissions in our school. Why then
ADVOCATE ANAND KUJUR
RT. Rev. Bishops kindly rush for legal action. Hon'ble Supreme Court and High Court can be approached without any further delay. There is no use of crying and candle march etc. once the cats are left free among peogens.
PEARL
There will come a day when we will no longer worship in mountains or temples but in Spirit and Truth. You may destroy all the externals of a religion but you can never kill it's soul. The followers of Christ have always been a persecuted lot but no one or nothing has stopped them from standing up to their convictions. After all, they serve a crucified and risen Lord! Their prayer is that all, irrespective of their caste, creed or religion, would come to experience the power of Christ's resurrection! Christianity is not a religion but an experience of the new life found in Christ Jesus that transforms him or her to become more like Christ himself. Hence, to those who despise and hate us our response is not revenge but forgiveness like Jesus himself prayed for those who nailed him to the cross:" Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing. " Through the weapon of love and forgiveness he conquered death and ever since has reigned in the hearts of millions of souls so much so that one-third of the world claim to be His followers. Yes, Jesus Christ the risen Lord shall reign forever and forever in the hearts of those who have found his amazing love and grace and who wouldn't trade anything, not even persecution, with Him. ????????????
PHILOMENA
This communal BJP is out to destroy the very fabric of India. How come Hindu Swami's are flocking Christian USA and Europe and converting the citizens there? Must be converting with a bag of peanuts! We Christians must never give in to communal forces. Let the world know what is happening to us minority Christians
JANESHWARA AMBROSE
If Hindus fear that their Child will be converted, stop your child to going to christian school. You have no rights to sAY REMOVE THE cROSS AND cHRISTIAN iDEOLS and cassock of priest or nun. New Delhi: A single-judge bench of the Allahabad high court said on Wednesday (September 6) that distributing the Bible, encouraging children to get educated and providing ‘good teachings’ do not amount to ‘allurement’ under Uttar Pradesh’s unlawful conversion law. Justice Shamim Ahmed passed the order after hearing an appeal by Jose Papachen and Sheeja against the rejection of their bail plea back in March this year by a special judge for cases relating to the SC/ST Act. Papachen and Sheeja have been accused of alluring people belonging to the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities into converting to Christianity. Their counsel said they have been in jail since January 24, the same day a first information report (FIR) was filed against them under the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021 and the Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The FIR was filed against them in a police station in UP’s Ambedkar Nagar district based on a complaint by one Zila Manti, who was identified as a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party. UP’s Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act makes it illegal to convert someone by way of ‘allurement’ (among other things). It defines allurement as an “offer of temptation in the form of any gift, gratification, easy money or material benefit … employment, free education in [a] reputed school run by any religious body; or better lifestyle, divine displeasure or otherwise.” Prosecutors in the case alleged that Papachen and Sheeja used “psychological pressure for forceful conversions as part of their plan to set up [a Christian state]” and allured people by “undue influence” to convert to Christianity. The court also recorded Zila Manti’s allegation that the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities who Papachen and Sheeja allegedly tried to convert became “annoyed” by their attempts. The villagers in question gave their statements, which were recorded during their police examination as witnesses, saying that Papachen and Sheeja “used to give them good teachings … distribute Holy Bible books to them … [and] encourage them to get their children educated,” and instructed them not to fight and consume alcohol. After hearing these statements, the court ruled that these activities did not constitute allurement under UP’s unlawful conversion law and granted bail to Papachen and Sheeja. Besides, Justice Ahmed also noted that under the section of this law concerning allurement, only the aggrieved person(s) or their relatives can lodge a complaint. “… Further considering that the complainant is Zila Mantri of a ruling party and is neither the aggrieved person, his/her parents, brother, sister or any other person, who is related to him/her by blood, marriage or adoption, as provided under Section 4 of the [Unlawful Conversion Act], thus the complainant is not competent to lodge the present FIR,” his order said. UP’s legislature enacted the unlawful conversion law in 2020 as an ordinance in response to what the ruling BJP calls ‘love jihad’. The Act also criminalises marriages done for the “sole purpose of unlawful conversion or vice versa”. It has been used multiple times in the recent past to stop consenting inter-faith couples from being together and getting married. Right-wing Hindu vigilantes have been at the forefront of disrupting these marriages, and several Muslim men have faced jail time even when their partners have made clear that they consented to the relationship and were not forced to convert.
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