According to a report from the BBC, six people from St. Ephrem’s Theological College in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh were arrested after singing Christmas carols on charges that they were really attempting to convert someone.
In the complaint, the resident said that the group, including [a professor at a local Catholic college], had previously asked him to “worship Jesus Christ” and had offered him money to convert.
However, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference denied the allegations of forced conversions, saying the group was there just to sing Christmas carols.
The accusations seems strange considering the Catholic Church doesn’t give money to headhunters. You don’t get a financial reward for converting people. Plus, if a Catholic person genuinely wanted to win over a non-Catholic, God would probably see through a false confession for cash.
This is the sort of charge that you’d only see in a state where religious conversions require government approval. (If that sounds Draconian, the law was originally meant to put a stop to forced conversions… but it’s not hard to see how it could be abused.)
The allegations weren’t the only problem the carolers faced.
A car used by the carol singers was also set on fire, allegedly by right-wing activists.
Police have also filed a case against those accused of torching the car.
So much for the Christmas spirit… (Another report says the car that was set on fire belonged to priests who came to the police station to check in on the carolers, not to the carolers themselves.)
If this sort of thing happened in the U.S., maybe I would believe there was a “War on Christmas.” But it doesn’t happen. Even in India, the story sounds more like one guy trying to use the law to exact revenge than Christians doing anything nefarious.
At least the singers were later released by police.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Scott for the link)