Two non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating from Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin, ‘Jesus Redeems‘ and ‘New Life Society,’ have come under scrutiny for their involvement in activities that raise serious concerns about the freedom of religion guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution of India. LRPF (Legal Rights Protection Forum) has written to NCPCR (National Commission for Protection of Child Rights) against the NGOs highlighting their evangelical activities.
LRPF has pointed out that the NGOs share the same office address and added that they have a close organizational connection. ‘New Life Society’ is said to be an initiative of ‘Jesus Redeems,’ with shared chief functionaries and an intricate web of foreign funding.
The case draws parallels with the Caruna Bal Vikas NGO, where the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered a case against entities involved in Christian conversions of children using foreign funds from Compassion International (US). The FIR, dated 20-02-2020, highlighted Caruna Bal Vikas’s declared objective of converting poor children into fulfilled Christian adults, a chilling similarity to the stated goal of ‘New Life Society’ as seen on its official website.
Shared Objectives and Foreign Funding
The complaint also points out that the commonality in objectives between Caruna Bal Vikas and New Life Society, both aiming to shape children into fulfilled Christian adults, is a cause for concern. The modus operandi involving foreign funding for child welfare activities echoes the problematic scenario that led to the ban on Compassion International (US) donations to Indian NGOs in 2017 due to scandals involving child conversion.
Connection to Compassion International and Financial Transactions
Jesus Redeems emerges as a prime affiliate in the network, having received substantial foreign donations from Compassion International (US) intended for Caruna Bal Vikas. The financial trail, as per FCRA returns, reveals that Jesus Redeems received over Rs. 1.5 Crore from Caruna Bal Vikas between 2009 and 2015. Post-2014, Compassion International directly contributed Rs. 1,13,04,681 to Jesus Redeems for ‘Child Welfare Activity.’ This financial connection underscores the deep-rooted association between the NGOs and Compassion International, indicating a coordinated effort.
Cases of Child Conversions by Jesus Redeems & New Life Society
The operational overlap and similar objectives of Jesus Redeems and New Life Society, coupled with their association with Caruna Bal Vikas and Compassion International, raise alarming questions about the potential involvement in religious conversions of minors. The Child Development Centre, run by New Life Society, initiated with 83 children and currently housing 209, is now under scrutiny for its activities and the possible influence of foreign funds in this context.
The allegations against Jesus Redeems and New Life Society point to a disturbing trend of using child welfare activities as a guise for Christian religious conversions. The echoes of the Caruna Bal Vikas case and the ban on Compassion International’s donations raise red flags about the potential violation of FCRA regulations and, more importantly, the constitutional right to freedom of religion for minor children. As investigations unfold, the need for stringent scrutiny and action against those involved in exploiting vulnerable children for religious conversions becomes imperative.
The LRPF’s complaint asserts that New Life Society, functioning as a sub-entity to Jesus Redeems with a shared office address and leadership, is equally implicated in the alleged religious conversion activities targeting impoverished children. Given these interconnected circumstances, the LRPF urges NCPCR authorities to refer the matter to the FCRA division of the Ministry of Home Affairs, seeking the cancellation of both NGOs’ FCRA licenses. Additionally, the complaint calls for the inclusion of their names in the ongoing case initiated by the Central Bureau of Investigation under FIR No: RC2202020E003 dated 20-02-2020 against Caruna Bal Vikas and others.