Asia Pacific



Christian Charity Workers Accused of Preaching Christianity Killed in Afghanistan

Six Americans and two other foreigners on a medical mission were shot and killed by the Taliban who ambushed their vehicles in a remote part of northern Afghanistan, a charity said Saturday. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told The Associated Press in Pakistanthat they killed the foreigners because they were “spying for the Americans” and “preaching Christianity.”


Buddhist Monk Attacked in Bangladesh

The Buddhist minority in majority-Muslim Bangladesh have been constant targets by Islamic extremists

Chittagong, Bangladesh— Three men were arrested by police after they barged into a Buddhist temple this week to attack a Buddhist monk during a religious function. The incident occurred at the AvoysharanTemple at Mirsarai.,10024,0,0,1,0


Buddhist Bhutan Proposes ‘Anti Conversion’ Law

Section 463 of the Penal Code of Bhutan makes proselysation an offence if the defendant uses coercion or other forms of inducement to cause the conversion of a person from on religion or faith to another. The amendment would punish ‘proselytizing” that uses coercion or other forms of inducement”.

Religious Conversion Worst Form of Intolerance, Bhutan PM

In the Kingdomof Bhutan, where Christianity is still awaiting legal recognition, Christians have the right to proclaim their faith but must not use coercion or claim religious superiority to seek conversions, the country’s prime minister told Compass in an exclusive interview.

“I view conversions very negatively, because conversion is the worst form of intolerance,” Jigmi Yoser Thinley said in his office in the capital of the predominantly Buddhist nation.

Christian leaders in Bhutanhave told Compass that they enjoy certain freedoms to practice their faith in private homes, but, because of a prohibition against church buildings and other restrictions, they were not sure if proclamation of their faith – included in international human rights codes – was allowed in Bhutan.

Prime Minister Thinley, said propagation of one’s faith is allowed, but he made it clear that he views attempts to convert others with extreme suspicion.

“The first premise [of seeking conversion] is that you believe that your religion is the right religion, and the religion of the convertee is wrong – what he believes in is wrong, what he practices is wrong, that your religion is superior and that you have this responsibility to promote your way of life, your way of thinking, your way of worship,” Thinley said. “It’s the worst form of intolerance. And it divides families and societies.”

… “There are more Christian activities taking place on a daily basis than Hindu and Buddhist activities,” he added.


Kandhamal Obsession Taints America’s Vision

For the second consecutive year, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has seen the communal situation in India — particularly in Kandhamal district — through tinted glass. In 2008, in the aftermath of anti-Christian riots that claimed 18 lives in Kandhamal, the US watchdog had put the country under the harsher CPC (Countries of Particular Concern) which even attracts sanctions. This time the body parroted what it has been saying — attacks on minority faiths are routine in India. And that local and state authorities often abet if not aid religious attacks. The commission also does not forget to say, as it has done earlier, that justice for the victims has been not effective. But its own members have put dissenting notes arguing such accusation flies in the face of evidence of serious measures.

For the second consecutive year, the U. S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has seen the communal situation in In India- particularly in Kandhamal district through tinted glass. In 2008, in the aftermath of anti-Christian riots that claimed 187 lives  in Kandhamal the US watchdog has put the country under the harsher CPC (Countries of Particular Concern) which even attracts sanctions. This time the body parroted what it has been saying – attacks on minority faiths are routine in India. And that local and state authorities often abet if not aid religious attacks. The commission also does not forget to say, as it had done earlier, that justice for the victims has not been effective. But its own members  have put dissenting notes arguing that such accusation flies in the face of evidence of serious measures.

It has not got its facts right. Probably a reason why the government on two occasions did not allow visa for its members to visit Kandhamal. The Centre was also initially hesitant to let in the European Union delegates who had jumped to embarrassing conclusions in the backdrop of Kandhamal.

The commission has also not been comfortable with India’s anti-conversion laws. Orissa is one of the few states to have enacted strict legislation that forbids change of religion through inducement or coercion. Kandhamal remains a hotbed of conversion often triggering social tension. But the ground reality does not get a critical analysis by the commission. Its report, bracketing Kandhamal with Gujarat and anti-Sikh riots, betrays the usual bias and needs to be consigned to the dustbin. It is strange that the country which sees India as a potential counter-weight to China, puts Delhi on the same trail as Beijing on human rights issue.

The New Indian Express 29 Apr 2011 10:26:00 PM IST

Islands of Growth’ despite Hurdles for Catholic Church

Katyayani Murti

Like many, if not most, diplomatic states, the Vatican may be tailoring its message to suit its audience, cables accessed by The Hindu through WikiLeaks show.

In 2002, a Vatican representative told a U.S. diplomat that Catholicism in India was growing. But in 2006, a statement, written in response to a slew of anti-conversion laws in different Indian States and released on an official Church website in India, argued that the Catholic community in India was small and not conversion-oriented.

In a July 24, 2002 meeting, Archbishop Antonio Veglio, Secretary of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, told the U.S. Acting Deputy Chief of Mission, George Frowick, that of the 22 non-Roman Christian Rites in his charge, the vast majority faced threats to their stability. Only two — the Greek Rite Church in Ukraine and Keralite Catholic churches in India — appeared to be secure, according to an account of what the Archbishop said, as provided in the cable ( 3387: confidential, dated July 26, 2002).

“The Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Churches are reputed to have a 2,000-year presence in Southern India,” the cable states. According to Archbishop Veglio, these churches originated “from the visit of Saint Tomas the Apostle.”

Unlike their counterparts in “the Middle East,” “Ethiopia/Eritrea,” and “formerly communist Europe” excluding the Greek Rite Church in Ukraine, “the Indian Eastern Catholic Churches centered on the state of Kerala” are described in the cable as ‘“lively’ and ‘growing’.”

Characterised as “islands of growth,” the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Eastern Rite Churches were described by Archbishop Veglio as “vigorous and growing, despite hindrances.” The hindrances included anti-conversion bills such as those backed by the Hindu nationalist political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the cable says.

Monsignor Francis Chullikatt, “a Kerala native heading off to become the papal nuncio in Baghdad,” termed such legislation “poorly conceived.” He emphasised “the need to preserve religious freedom in India,” “noting at the same time that the Catholic Church should be distinguished from various evangelical groups in India.” He claimed that such groups did not “respect traditional Indian culture in the way the Church does” (65975: confidential, dated May 31, 2006).

Anti-conversion bills

Cardinal Ivan Dias wrote protesting against a rash of anti-conversion bills being introduced in Indian States. His statement, of May 23, 2006, was released on the official website of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India.

Just three days earlier, on May 20, Cardinal Dias was appointed to “a senior position in Rome,” to serve as the “head of the Congregation for Evangelization,” according to the cable.

Monsignor Bernardito Auza, point man for South Asia in the Holy See’s Secretariat of State, said that Cardinal Dias’s appointment “coincided” with the anti-conversion excitement in India “purely by accident,” the cable says.

The statement was written on Cardinal Dias’s “own initiative,” and not “coordinated with Rome,” according to Monsignor Auza, the cable says. However, it “accurately reflected the Vatican’s views.”

“Christians are responsible for large shares of primary education, community health care, and literacy programs throughout India,” Cardinal Dias wrote, according to the cable. “A great many Indians of all faiths value and patronize these highly-regarded Catholic institutions, but are never asked to convert.”

“No forced conversion by the Catholic Church in India has ever been documented, despite various allegations,” the cable quotes Cardinal Dias as saying in his statement. Thus, “Christians in India are only 2.3 percent of the total population, and of this 1.8 percent are Catholics,” Cardinal Dias claimed, according to the cable.

“After two millennia the Indian Christian community remains small,” the cable quotes Cardinal Dias’s statement as saying, contrasting with Archbishop Veglio’s earlier declarations of growth.

“These churches are thriving even as Christians suffer persecution in Hindu-Nationalist parts of India,” Archbishop Veglio told Mr. Frowick in 2002 (3387: confidential, dated July 26, 2002).

Commenting on the situation, U.S. State Department Charge d’Affaires Christopher Sandrolini and U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See L. Francis Rooney III, said that “the Church — both in Rome and elsewhere — will increasingly shed its traditional preference for quiet diplomacy when it comes to issues it deems vital for its own survival, particularly religious freedom” (65975: confidential, dated May 31, 2006).

According to the cable, Mr. Sandrolini and Mr. Rooney “judge that the Holy See and the Church in India and elsewhere will not back down on issues it sees as fundamental to religious freedom, and to its security and survival.”

(This article is a part of the series “The IndiaCables” based on the USdiplomatic cables accessed by The Hindu via Wikileaks.’)

Suspected Religious Conversion Racket Busted in Mangalore

Social welfare department officials busted an alleged religious conversion racket in Haleyangadi gram panchayat limits in Mangalore city police limits.

The officials raided ‘Ebenezer prayer hall’ run by a couple, K.J. Joy and Elizabeth, without a licence following complaints of child labour being used on the premises. However, policemen who accompanied the officials ended up cracking a religious conversion racket allegedly run by the couple.

The couple had been running the ‘prayer hall’ on the pretext of rehabilitating destitute children. The locals alleged that the five children had been kidnapped by the couple.

Chidanandmurthy in Favour of Bill to Curb Conversion

In the backdrop of the Justice Somashekhar Commission Report, noted Kannada writer M Chidanandmurthy today called for introduction of a bill to curb “religious conversion by fundamentalists” during thec oming session of the state legislature.

Opposing conversions that took place by offering monetary inducements, he alleged that it was often vulnerable sections of people that had been targetted.

He cited the examples of states like Gujarat, Orissa andMadhya Pradesh where such a bill had been introduced and urged the state government to follow suit

Source: OneIndia News 11 February 2011

Police on the Look Out for Two Baptist Pastors in Orissa

Orissa Police arrested twelve tribals for allegedly undergoing religious conversion in an ‘illegal’ manner. They were arrested for violating the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act (OFRA). Police are now on the lookout for two Baptist pastors who also have been named by the complainant. The Orissa Freedom of Religion Act prohibits religious conversions without the prior permission of the local police and a district magistrate. The order stipulates that a citizen wishing to convert must undergo a police inquiry to explain his or her reasons.

Orissa is one of six states in Indiathat has adopted an anti-conversion law

A March for Enactment of Anti-Conversion Law in Karnataka

CITIZENS for Harmony, a forum to create awareness among all walks of social life, demanded the enactment of an anti-conversion law in Karnataka. The march was led by noted littérateurs Dr Doddarange Gouda, Dr Chidananda Murthy, Dr Sumatindra Nadig and several religious leaders, thinkers and hundreds of supporters.

Foreign Funds Incite Social TensionJustice Somashekara Commission Report

The report confirmed that some of these Christian missionary organisations are indeed getting funds from foreign countries and misuse it for mass conversion of innocent and helpless members of society belonging to weaker section. In its 656-page report submitted to Karnataka chief minister B. S. Yeddyurappa recently, the report also stated that the proposal of many Hindu religious people for enacting a suitable legislation to prevent practices detrimental to the interests of Hindu religion is totally justified.

The Justice H.K. Somashekara Commission of Enquiry that probed the incidents of attack on a few churches in various parts of Karnataka state in early 2008 has come out with some alarming revelations including the silent mass conversion undertaken by some Christian missionary organisations in the state.

Criminal Case Filed against Bishop

A Criminal case was filed here today against Church of SouthIndiaBishop Manickam Dorai, who is already facing charges of misappropriation of CSI funds, and 12 others, a top police official said. The case was filed under seven sections of IPC including cheating in Hasthampatty police station.

Source: yahoo news, July 22, 2010


Sumatra Buddha Statue Must Go: Ministry

The Religious Affairs Ministry has ordered a large Buddhist statue in North Sumatratobe taken down after it raised the ire of Muslims in the area. Budi Setiawan, the ministry’s director general of Buddhist affairs, said on Friday that the decision to remove the six-meter-high statue in Tanjung Balai was final and could not be appealed.

He said discussions in October among Buddhists, the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) and the local government resulted in an agreement to dismount the figure, which sat on top of a three-story temple in Vihara Tri Ratna Kota. This claim, however, has been disputed by the Buddhists.

Veryanto Sitohang, head of the Buddhist United Alliance of North Sumatra (ASB), condemned the decision on Friday, saying it “clearly violated human rights and law” by siding with Muslims.,10032,0,0,1,0


Bibles to be Released on Condition that they are Stamped

Malaysia, has said that the Bible in Malaysia’s national language, Bahasa Malaysia, which it has banned will be released only if stamped ‘For Christians Only’. Each copy of the Bible should also be stamped with a serial number, which then presents the opportunity for the authorities to trace the copies. If the Bible turns up later in the hands of a Muslim or in the hands of someone they say shouldn’t have it, they could trace it back and say, ‘

The action seems to threaten evangelism if only Christians are allowed to have the Bibles. Nettleton, of Voice of Martyrs says it also appears to support the idea that the government desires Malaysiato remain a mostly-Muslim country.

“I think what it means is that the government is going to do everything they can to make it difficult, particularly for Christians who are evangelizing, and especially evangelizing among the Malay people,” Nettleton notes.


French Mission Letter on Right to Conversion

French Ambassador to Nepal, Mr. Gilles Henry Garault, had allegedly sent a letter on behalf of the European Union to the Government of Nepal to guarantee the ‘right to religious conversion.’ Currently, Franceis the chair of local EU Presidency. “The European Union urges the government to allow ‘full freedom’ to proselytize while drafting the new constitution”, one of the prominent media had reported referring to the “official” letter sent by the French Embassy. The current constitutional provisions on religious rights were “limited”, also says the French Embassy letter sent to the Government of Nepal.”

Reacting to the letter, Kamal Thapa, Chairperson of the Rastriya Prajatanta Party-Nepal said, “We do not believe in religious fundamentalism. However, our party is in favor of Nepalas a Hindu Statealong with a Monarchy. Hinduism is the identity of Nepal”, he also said. “Nepal cannot lose its unique Hindu Identity”, he said and added, “We want monarchy revived in Nepal but not an autocratic one.”


The Catholic Church to Fight the PhilippinesReproductive Health Bill

The Catholic Church is leading the protest against the Reproductive Health Bill which provides for access to reproductive health services. Statistics show that 11 women die daily in the Philippines because of complications in pregnancy or in giving birth, which are easily preventable if access to affordable and safe methods of family planning are provided. Women’s groups say that the bill is important to prevent more maternal deaths.

The 16 year old bill which has not gone through because of the strong Church lobby is currently before the Philippines Congress. The Church has vowed to fight it.



Internal Security Department Questions Pastor on Jokes about Buddhism

Pastor Rony Tan of mega church Lighthouse Evangelism in Singaporewas recently called up by the Internal Security Dept for having made insensitive comments about Buddhism and Taoism. He was interviewing 2 ex-Buddhists during his services. These testimony cum interviews were recorded and placed on his website. Buddhists who saw the videos & the laughs (they are all on YouTube now) were very upset by it and reported him to the authorities.

Being called up by the ISD is very serious. It’s like being hauled in by the FBI/Secret Service and being interrogated for hours. He has since apologised in person to the respective leaders of Buddhism and Taoism in Singapore, removed the videos from his site, told his congregation not to circulate those videos, apologised and apologised again, and basically done everything in his power to salvage the situation.

But the Buddhists and the Taoists here are not letting him go. They’ve called for his arrest. Countless blogs and articles have been written against him. Just Google “Pastor Rony Tan” and you’ll see an endless list of hate sites/blogs. The whole thing is worst than a famous USpastor being caught in adultery.

There is a general ‘dislike’ for Christians now in Singapore. They see us as being too aggressive when it comes to evangelising. And I’m sure many pastors in Singaporenow have to be very careful of how and what they preach. Just preaching that Buddhist and Taoist idols are false gods may land you in trouble. People are watching what you preach and they’ll report you to the police if they feel offended. Even my church has received a complaint/threat (police report) against our Chinese pastor for having said something about Buddhism. Worse of all, this person who wrote in is a Christian!


Bishop of JaffnaThanks Defence Secretary

Jaffna Bishop Rt. Rev. Dr. Thomas Savundranayagam has thanked Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa for granting permission to celebrate the feast of St. Anthony at the Kachchativu island.

He has written expressing gratitude for the assistance provided by the Sri Lankan Navy which had taken much pains to carry out the necessary preparations for the feast.

“The Parish Priest of Delft was granted permission to proceed with his assistance in order to prepare the church and its premises for the feast. Nearly 4000 devotees from here and India had taken part in the feast.

The Sri Lankan Navy had taken much pains to carry out the necessary preparations for the feast,” the letter from the Bishop said. (Courtesy: Daily Mirror)

Haj Pilgrims to Increase this Year

The Sri Lankan Government has taken steps to increase the number of Hajj pilgrims and to reduce the charges on the Hajj pilgrimage this year. Senior Minister A.H.M. Fowzie who is in charge for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage held a media briefing yesterday morning at his official Residence before he left to Britain.  “We will negotiate with the Saudi Government to get more facilities to the Hajj pilgrims. I have a duty to safeguard President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lankan Government, pilgrims and the Hajj operators” Minister Fowzie said. He also said that the Sri Lankan delegation comprising five members including deputy minister A.R.M. Cader would meet the Hajj Affairs Minister of Saudi Arabia.

Temple Buildings Bulldozed

The Chief Incumbent of the Arugambay Sambodhi Viharaya filed a rights plea in the Supreme Court against the bulldozing of several buildings belonging to his temple.

Special Leave Facilities for Muslim Employees during Ramazan

Special leave will be provided for the government sector Muslim employees during Ramazan period to pursue their religious observances.

Dutch Priest in Sex Abuse

Bishop Ad van Luyn of Rotterdamin the Netherlandshas reported a Dutch priest to the police for alleged sexual abuse in Sri Lanka. Pending an investigation, the priest has been suspended with immediate effect by the Rotterdamdiocese, which contacted the police following questions raised by Radio Netherlands Worldwide and daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad. The priest, who until today was pastor in the towns of Leidschendam and Voorburg on the outskirts of The Hague, was a regular visitor to Sri Lanka where, according to the diocese he is “active in the field of charity”.A spokesman for the diocese said it was informed in July 2009 about “possible sexual abuse and possible financial misappropriations by this priest while in Sri Lanka”. The priest is the fifth Roman Catholic clergyman who has been suspended because of an investigation into alleged sexual abuse. The Dutch embassy in Sri Lankasays it knows nothing about the case.Information in the hands of RNW and NRC Handelsblad shows that the same priest was known to have had sexual relations with boys in the 1990s. At the time he was serving as a pastor in the former St Anthony parish in the city of Dordrecht. In 1995, he was reprimanded by Bishop Ad van Luyn because of his “lifestyle”.However, despite this he was then promoted to the post of Deacon of The Hague, where he remained for a couple of years. The diocese spokesman said that what happened in Dordrechtwas “a possible failure to comply with the pledge of celibacy”, and not sexual abuse. (Radio Netherlands) Source: Radio Netherlands17/04/2010Daily Mirror


Luis Palau to Preach in Vietnam

The U.S.-based evangelist the REv. Luis Palau  is to take part in April events celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first Protestant church in Vietnam, according to a news release from the Luis Palau Association.

The release says Palaumet with 500 Vietnamese church leaders last year in Hanoi. It says Palau“commended Vietnam’s pastors for their unity, respect for authorities and passion for church growth.”

Two Evangelists in Vietnam Sentenced to Prison

Two Christian evangelists, Ksor Y Du, 47, and Kpa Y Co, 30, were sentenced in 2010 November to six and four years in prison respectively for “undermining national unity.”