A top Indian Sikh leader expressed concern over churches and mosques being built in large numbers in rural Punjab, and urged Sikh preachers this week to reach out and counter this alleged trend of conversion.
“Today, we (the Sikhs) are facing a lot of challenges. Christianity is being spread in Punjab on a large scale to weaken us (Sikhs) religiously,” said Giani Harpreet Singh, Akal Takht (seat of power) acting jathedar.
He was addressing on June 6 an event organized to mark the 38th anniversary of Operation Bluestar at Golden Temple, the holiest Sikh shrine, in Punjab’s Amritsar.
“Churches and mosques are being built in large numbers in the villages of Punjab, which is worrisome for us,” he said.
He appealed to Sikh preachers “to launch a drive against this on a large scale and counter this trend of conversion.”
“Let us strengthen Sikhi in villages again,” said Singh. “This is the time to shed comforts of life and work tirelessly in this direction,” he added.
Protestant Bishop Pradeep Samantaroy of North India dismissed Singh’s concern. “This is not true,” said the bishop. “People have the right to preach any religion.”
He said the statement of the Sikh religious leader did not come at the right time. “We are all talking about religious harmony in the country. No conversion is taking place,” said Bishop Samataroy.
Bishop Agnelo Rufino Gracias, apostolic administrator of the Catholic diocese of Jalandhar, said Catholics “don’t convert people.”
He said India is “a country where people are free to preach.”
“There is no conversion going on. Only dormant Christians have become active and have started practicing the faith,” he said.
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