Archbishop in London Visits Temple

November 16, 2008

Author: Staff Writer

Source: Indo-Asian News Service

The head of the Church of England has contrasted the "organised attacks" on Christians in Orissa with the treatment of Hindus in Britain, and said India risks losing its place as "an international beacon" if the violence is allowed to continue.

In a letter written to Indian church leaders on the eve of a visit to a large British temple on Saturday, Archbishop Rowan Williams also declared, "Inappropriate pressure to reconvert is as unacceptable as inappropriate pressure to convert."

He said the scale of the violence in Orissa, with most of the victims among the poorest of society, "is truly shocking".

"Rather than improve, the situation in Orissa seems to have deteriorated and, indeed, to have spread to several other states, such as Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. I understand that more than 50 Christians have been killed, and many tens of thousands have become refugees," he said in the letter to the Moderators of the Church of North India and the Church of South India.

"In this country we seek to maintain positive and respectful relationships for the good of society with Hindu communities and organisations who are a minority," he said.

Williams on Saturday visited the Balaji Temple in Birmingham - the largest Hindu place of worship in Europe - as part of his inter-faith interactions in Britain and planted an olive tree on a 'Christian Hill' on the temple premises.

In his letter, Williams praised the achievements of India, saying it was not only the world's largest democracy but also a model for "rich religious diversity, and respect between most of the major faiths of the world".