As state governments in India pass laws on religious conversion, and political leaders create disharmony by talking about allurement and inducement in changing religions, a poor man who had converted from the religion of his forefathers to that of a so called foreign god, stood in front of a judge in a courtroom somewhere in India wearing a dhoti and a torn, worn out discarded shirt from someone else’s wardrobe.
The judge looked at him sternly and asked, “Did you change your religion out of your own free will?”
“Yes, your honor.”
“Was there any allurement or inducement that made you do so?”
“Yes, your honor!” said the poor man and the courtroom buzzed with excitement.
“What was the inducement offered?” asked the judge peering at the poor villager and getting ready to close the case.
“The promise of an attractive spiritual life and of a God who listens to me!”
“Was there no other inducement?”
“No, your honor, I was not offered any money to change my God, as I was offered by all the candidates in the last elections to change my vote! And your honor?”
“Yes?” asked the judge.
“When political parties offer free TV’s, free electricity, cheap rice, free housing and money in the bank..”
“Yes, yes I know!” said the judge.
“Isn’t that allurement and inducement?”
“I am the one asking the questions!” said the judge.
“I am sorry your honor. And your honor?”
“I told you I am the one…”
“I am a poor man…”
“Yes, I know,” said the judge.
“Poor and uneducated!”
“I know that!”
“Starving and hungry!”
“What are you leading up to?” asked the impatient judge.
“Despite being all this, you have still given me the freedom to vote!”
“That is the right of every citizen of this country!” said the judge proudly, “and it is my duty to see that no one stops you from exercising this right!”
“Thank you your honor!,” said the poor man and there was a hush in the courtroom as he drew himself to his full height of five feet four inches and said,
“If I, your honor, can be trusted with the right to vote a government out of power, then why your honor can’t I the same poor man be trusted to change my religion and my God when I want to, without having to give an explanation to you or any officer in this country? Let me test another god as much as I test a new government! If I am good enough to vote then your honor, I am good enough to choose my faith, isn’t it?”
There was silence in the courtroom as the poor man sat down.