2 Americans accused of preaching, conversions at Baptist hospital in India

2 Americans accused of preaching, conversions at Baptist hospital in India

(Photo: Getty/iStock)

Authorities in India fined two American residents for allegedly violating the situations of their vacationer visa by preaching and finishing up conversions — a declare their host refutes.

Local media retailers have been notified by the Superintendent of Police of the Sonitpur district of Assam state that James Michael Flinchum, 73, and Matthew Jon Boone, 64, had been taken into custody from the Baptist Christian Hospital at Tezpur’s Mission Chariali.

Their Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) papers permitted Flinchum admission starting in October 2023 and a number of entries to Boone starting in December 2023. They have been allowed to interact in “Recreation/Sight-Seeing” actions below their vacationer visa, which Assam state police alleged have been unlawful.

They have been charged with partaking in non secular actions at a number of areas by the federal government.

On Jan. 31, the 2 males went to the Baptist Mission Complex in Tezpur for the opening of the North Bank Baptist Christian Association. After that, on Feb. 2, they have been taken into custody on the hospital and fined.

While media experiences claimed the duo have been arrested, Sushanta Biswa Sharma, the Superintendent of Police of Sonitpur District, instructed media retailers that the police hadn’t arrested the 2 overseas nationals however had detained and fined them $500 every. Sharma additionally alleged that the 2 males had intentionally violated their visa phrases and so the police had been following up with authorities to blacklist them.

Speaking to Christian Today, the overall secretary of North Bank Baptist Christian Association (NBBCA), Chowaram Daimari denied the detention of the 2 guests.

“They have been neither detained nor deported however have been fined. After the tremendous was paid, they have been requested to carry-on their tourism freely as deliberate,” mentioned Daimari.

The allegation of conversion

Flinchum and Boone has stayed on the Baptist Christian Hospital campus upon their arrival to Tezpur on Jan. 31. Flinchum was the ex-associate director of Baptist General Conference (BGC), the group that based the Baptist Christian Hospital, Tezpur in 1954.

Daimari from the NBBCA instructed Christian Today that he refuted accusations by authorities that the 2 males had led conversions on the hospital compound.

The Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) of Sonitpur district, Madhurima Das, was quoted by media retailers as claiming: “A Baptist affiliation had held a constructing inauguration operate in Tezpur and Baptist leaders from completely different elements of Assam had gathered there. The two U.S. nationals have been additionally current there. The constructing itself is incomplete, it’s half-done, so we have now to say that they’d come for conversion actions. Since they have been within the nation on vacationer visas, they can’t take part in any non secular meet.”

Daimari defined that the proposed workplace of the NBBCA is within the hospital compound, and as Flinchum and Boone have been staying on the campus, they attended the inauguration operate, which was held on Feb. 1.

“Flinchum was as soon as intently related to the hospital, therefore we requested him to wish and share his thought on the constructing,” mentioned Daimari. “There isn’t any query of ‘conversion actions’ happening as said by some media retailers, since all of the contributors attending the inauguration operate have been Christians,” he added.

Furthermore, he instructed Christian Today that the constructing’s development is 90% full and that the contract was given 9 months in the past.

“It is mistaken to say that the constructing is half-done. It is totally full inside and just some portray parts stay outdoors. The contractor had agreed to complete the paint job earlier than the inauguration which he couldn’t end. We had already despatched all our invites for the inauguration and thus we didn’t change the date,” clarified Daimari.

The NBBCA, in co-operation with the Baptist General Conference, launched a press assertion on Feb. 10, that mentioned:

“After the operate was over, two males got here from the police station and requested in regards to the operate. I (Daimari) defined to them what was taking place. On the following day, Feb. 2, whereas they (two Americans) have been visiting Kaziranga National Park, the identical police personnel requested for photographs of the inauguration operate. After receiving the photographs they got here and met the vacationers at hospital once they arrived from the nationwide park. Their passports and visas have been checked. After a while they have been knowledgeable that they wanted to pay $500 every for violating vacationer visa norms. There was no detention or deportation.”

Flinchum and Boone left Tezpur on Feb. 3 for Guwahati and left India about three days later, in response to Daimari.

The Assam authorities in October 2022 had instructed all of the districts in that state to observe foreigners who arrive and hold a detailed examine on them in the event that they bask in “conversion actions,” which is in violation of visa norms. They have been additionally instructed to observe non secular gatherings and examine the journey paperwork of the foreigners who’re discovered attending any non secular gatherings.

Shocked on the inauguration operate being known as a non secular gathering, Daimari concluded, “Praying in a constructing inauguration doesn’t make it a non secular operate. I really feel that they’re decoding the regulation in response to their understanding.”

© Christian Today India



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