Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom
The Ethics and Public Policy Center's
Program to Protect America's Freedom
held a discussion with
The Most Rev. Raphael Cheenath, Archbishop of Cuttack – Bhubaneswar (Orissa, India)
"Conversions to Christianity in India:
Causes and Repercussions"
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Betsy and Walter Stern Conference Center
1015 Fifteenth Street N.W., 6th Floor
Washington D.C. 20005
Santorum, Rev. Cheenath, and Shea
Rev. Raphael Cheenath
Hudson Institute and the Ethics and Public Policy Center were pleased to welcome Archbishop Raphael Cheenath for a discussion on the state of religious freedom in India. Archbishop Cheenath, priest of the Society of the Divine Word, has been the Catholic Archbishop of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, in the region of Orissa, since 1985. Orissa has been at the center of violent attacks against Christians in recent months. Archbishop Cheenath is now working along with Protestant and Evangelical church leaders to bring peace and stability to the region.
On August 23, 2008, violence reignited against the Christians of Orissa when an extremist Hindu leader was killed by suspected Maoist rebels. Though Maoists took responsibility for the killing, the Hindu leaders embarked on a large-scale campaign of arson and killing against the Christian community. According to news reports, by October 13, over 60 Christians had been killed and 18,000 wounded; 181 churches razed or destroyed; 4,500 Christian homes burned; and more than 50,000 Christians were displaced, of whom more than 30,000 remain in refugee camps or in hiding in the jungle. The local government failed to take effective measures to quell the violence, and the central government was slow in responding to this crisis.
The religious violence in Orissa was enflamed by accusations from hard line Hindu organizations and their political parties that Christian churches have been "forcibly" converting the local population. Although India's Constitution guarantees religious freedom to all of its citizens, Hindu political parties demand laws to curb the conversion of Hindus to other faiths. The Archbishop will examine the underlying cause of these accusations and offer recommendations toward ending the bloodshed.
Introductory remarks were given by Rick Santorum, Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Nina Shea, Director of Hudson's Center for Religious Freedom, moderated the event.
For more information, please contact Beth Kerley at firstname.lastname@example.org or Anne Snyder at email@example.com.