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Indian state's data debunks myth about Christian conversions

Maharashtra state has discussed creating laws to restrict conversions
Indian state's data debunks myth about Christian conversions

Indigenous Christians in India’s eastern Jharkhand state demonstrate against an anti-conversion bill in state capital Ranchi on Oct. 31, 2017. The law reportedly aims to curb conversion of Hindus by Christian missionary activities. (Photo by IANS)

Published: January 25, 2018 11:01 AM GMT
Updated: January 25, 2018 11:01 AM GMT

People converting to Christianity remains nearly equal to the number of Christians leaving the religion in India's western Maharashtra state, says government figures which negates claims that missioners attract thousands to Christianity.

In the past 43 months, 1,683 people have opted to change their religion in the state, said official figures. They include 1,166 Hindus, 263 Muslims, 165 Christians, 53 Buddhists, 16 Sikhs, nine Jains, four Neo-Buddhists and 11 others.

Of these 165 Christians, 100 became Hindus, 47 took up Islam, 11 became Buddhists, five adopted Jainism and two became followers of Sikhism.

In contrast, during the same period only 173 people joined to become Christians. While 138 Hindus joined Christian religion, 21 came from Islam and 14 from Buddhism and Jainism.

In April last year state legislative house discussed a plan to make a law restricting conversions, which media reports said was aimed at curbing conversion of Hindus by Christian missioners.

The state is yet to make such a law but similar laws exist in seven other states which criminalizes changing religion without informing government authorities.

Christians leaders say these laws target missionary activities as their work in the field of education and health care in the villages could be interpreted as "fraud, force or allurement."

Contrary to impressions, a majority of Hindus in the state who chose to change their religion have adopted Islam, just as majority of Muslims preferred to convert to Hinduism, showed the data.

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