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Acts of missionaries to spread Christianity by themselves cannot be seen as illegal, T.N. government tells SC – The Hindu

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May 01, 2023 10:51 am | Updated 10:51 am IST – NEW DELHI
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 The acts of missionaries to spread Christianity by themselves cannot be seen as illegal, the Tamil Nadu government has told the Supreme Court. | Photo Credit: S. Subramanium
The acts of missionaries to spread Christianity by themselves cannot be seen as illegal, the Tamil Nadu government has told the Supreme Court.
“Article 25 (freedom of religion) of the Constitution guarantees every citizen the right to propagate his religion. Therefore, the acts of missionaries spreading Christianity by themselves cannot be seen as something against the law. But if their act of spreading their religion is against public order, morality and health and to other provisions of Part III of the Constitution, it has to be viewed seriously,” the State said.
Any person has the right to propagate and preach his belief system to other persons without the use of intimidation, threats, deceit, allurement, superstition or black magic, it said.
Tamil Nadu, represented by senior advocate P. Wilson, noted that a person does not have a fundamental right to turn another to his or her own religion. But every person has a right to propagate her religion.
Likewise, the Constitution does not prevent any person from getting converted to the religion of his choice, the State said.
People have a choice to change their beliefs and even return to their original religious denominations, the State said.
“The citizens of the country should be allowed freely to choose their religion. It would not be appropriate for the government to put spokes in their personal beliefs and privacy,” Tamil Nadu stressed.
The right to have faith in a particular religion can be traced to Article 21 (right to a dignified life) of the Constitution.
“It is an inviolable right,” the affidavit said.
The State was responding to a petition filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, who has sought an NIA/CBI investigation into the “root cause” of the death of a 17-year-old girl in Tamil Nadu amidst a swirl of accusations that she had been forced to convert to Christianity. The petition argued that forcible or deceitful conversion was a violation of fundamental rights.
Forcible or deceitful religious conversion does not happen in Tamil Nadu, the State underscored.
“Conversion of poor people to other religions by intimidation, threats, deceit, allurement through gifts, black magic or superstition are not reported in Tamil Nadu,” the affidavit submitted.
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