Kashmir Christians persecuted over alleged conversions

Kashmir's Christians are being persecuted after a local pastor ran afoul of an Islamic court for allegedly using inappropriate inducements to convert Muslims to Christianity.

And, according to the Times of India, Argentenian soccer coach Juan Marcos Troia, whom I profiled for his role in the 2010 documentary "Inshallah, Football," has seen his house vandalized by thugs as fundamentalists try to whip up passions in the troubled state.

The controversy began when a video surfaced showing a pastor C M Khanna baptizing young Muslim boys. A Sharia court "summoned" Khanna and accused him of converting Muslims by luring them with money; a claim that the Christian Council of India denies. Khanna was arrested for disturbing communal peace. He is now on bail but the Sharia court ordered his "expulsion" from the state. Although this court has no legal sanctity, political parties have remained silent.

Throughout India, the issue of religious conversion is controversial. Several states have laws on the books to prevent "forced" conversions, or convincing people to convert with money or other "inducements." In many instances, the dispute has erupted into violence, such as a series of attacks on Christians in Karnataka and Orissa in 2008.

I'm not keen on faith healers who trick the illiterate into a blind allegiance to a foreign god. But if locals want to "sell their souls" to the highest bidder, what's to prevent Hindus, or Muslims, from doing the same? 

If you want to hold onto your congregation, deliver some benefits — or just stop treating them as pariahs.

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