03/23/2006, 00.00
INDIA
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Some 200 Christians "re-converted" to Hinduism in Uttar Pradesh

by Nirmala Carvalho

Those who re-converted are Pentecostal. Sects are a problem for Catholics too because their activities, which are often reckless, have repercussions on the Church and its missionaries, who work for everyone irrespective of caste or religion and who become targets for violence, says bishop of Bareilly.

Bareilly (AsiaNews) – Arya Samaj, a Hindu nationalist movement, has re-converted 200 Christians from Tharachitara, a village in the central Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

"These 're-converted ones' are not Catholic," said Mgr Anthony Fernandes, bishop of Bareilly, "but Pentecostal Christians. Missionaries converted them to Christianity promising them a better life, with less poverty, but then they vanished. Catholics don't act that way, never have".

"Arya Samaj is a social movement active throughout the state. 'Back to the roots' is its motto," the prelate explained. "Once they find a Christian village or community, they move in and talk about 'common Hindu roots' and are very persuasive. They accuse missionaries of making empty promises and then disappear."

"Once inside the community, by hook or by crook they are able to re-convert Tribals to Hinduism, which they refer to as the 'religion of our forebears'. I might add that these [re-conversion] ceremonies are not ad hoc but regular affairs around the state," Bishop Fernandes said.

"The problem is that for them Catholics, Christians of all denominations, Pentecostals are the same thing. Sects are a problem for us too because their activities, which are often reckless, have repercussions on the Church and its missionaries, who work for everyone irrespective of caste or religion, and who become targets for violence."

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