‘Madras HC remarks on Christian educational institutions cause dismay’
The National Commission for Minorities Vice-Chairman George Kurian, in a statement, has expressed his sadness over the statement of the Madras High Court on Christian educational institutions in the country while delivering a verdict on a sexual harassment case. The court also made remarks on the allegations of “compulsory conversions” by Christian missionaries. Kurian called upon the court to direct legislature or executive to bring in an anti-conversion law if it thinks that “compulsory conversions” an issue.
Kurian stated: “The statement of the Honourable High Court of Madras, as reported in the media, that “…parents of students, especially female, that co-educational study in Christian institutions is highly unsafe for the future of their children” has caused dismay and pain to the members of the community.”
The vice-chairman said: “It is learnt from the media reports that the Honourable Court made the observation while considering a case pertaining to sexual harassment. Nowhere in the Indian Constitution or Indian Penal Code it is mentioned that the religion of an accused or a petitioner should be considered while hearing a case.”
It is reported in the media: “…before parting with the judgment this court feels that it is appropriate to point out that missionaries are always source of attack in one way or the other and in the present era, there are several accusations against them for indulging in compulsory conversions of people of other religions into Christianity.”
Commenting on the issue of religious conversions, Kurian stated: “the matter of religious conversion was not a question of dispute in the petition. It seems the intention was to draw the attention of the issue of alleged “compulsory conversions” undertaken by missionaries.
In this context, it may be mentioned that in 1951 Census, the percentage of Christian population in India was 2.3. It remains unchanged in the 2011 Census, too. Instead of blaming the Christian community for all conversions taking place in the country, the legislature and executive would have been directed to enact an anti-conversion law. The Holy Father Pope Francis has suggested that missionary spirit means giving witness and not proselytizing.”
Kurian said it has been a long-standing demand of the minorities of our neighbouring countries to have a strong anti-conversion legislation to protect their religious identity in the face of onslaught from the majority community in those countries.
Regarding Christian institutions, the Honourable court says “…though they impart good education, the preaching of morality will be a million dollar question.” As mentioned by the Honourable Court, the Christian educational institutions are imparting good education. Many of the best educational institutions are run by the Christians in the country. The high moral standards kept up by these institutions cannot be questioned.
On the question of morality, Kurian said, “It is the responsibility of all institutions, including judiciary to maintain high moral standards. There should not be different yardsticks for measuring it.”
According to Kurian, isolated incidents taken place in a particular institution or flaws of a particular individual should not be used to generalise the conduct of other institutions or a set of individuals or a community for that matter. “The contribution of the Christian community in the field of education in India is accepted and acknowledged by all,” he added.