Healing is not proselytisation: Assam Christian body

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GUWAHATI

An umbrella body of church organisations in Assam has criticised Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for his “misguided and misleading” statement equating magical healing with proselytisation.

The Assam Christian Forum (ACF) has also rejected the demands of a radical Hindu group for the removal of Christian symbols from missionary schools across the State. The pro-Hindutva group claimed missionaries use such symbols subtly to convert students from other faiths.

The Chief Minister told journalists recently that the Assam Cabinet passed a resolution endorsing a bill to ban magical healing practices with the explicit goal of curbing evangelism.

“As leaders representing the ACF, we find this statement both misguided and needless. The Assam Cabinet’s assertion that Christians engage in magical healing is misguided and misleading. Our numerous dispensaries and hospitals operate within the recognised medical frameworks, providing essential services to the sick,” a statement said on Thursday.

The statement was signed by ACF president, Archbishop John Moolachira, ACF general secretary, Reverend Chowaram Daimari, and ACF spokesperson Alen Brooks.

“Healing, in our context, is not synonymous with proselytisation. It is a compassionate response to human suffering, irrespective of religious affiliations,” the ACF said, insisting that labelling prayer as magical healing oversimplifies the profound spiritual dimensions of faith and life.

The forum said Article 25 of the Constitution of India guarantees the right to practice one’s chosen religion and the accusation against Christians undermines this constitutional protection.

“The statement implicates Christians specifically, but it affects practitioners of all faiths. We must recognise that invoking divine blessings is intrinsic to religious worship, whether in temples, mosques, or churches,” the ACF said.

“We are also disturbed by the threats to educational institutions and demands for the removal of Christian symbols by some fringe elements. We reject these demands and request the State authorities to take action against these elements who are a threat to our civilised society and are against the rights given to us by the Constitution of India,” the ACF said, calling for engaging in dialogue that promotes understanding and dispels misconceptions.

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