The chief of India's leading Hindu fundamentalist group RSS (National Volunteer Corps) publicly proposed in October that Christians in India submit to a "China model" that includes state control, church registration, and severed ties to foreign missions groups.

Christian leaders throughout India scorned the proposal, which further soured relations between India's Hindu majority and the nation's 38 million Christians.

Earlier this year, there was hope of dialogue between top Hindu and Christian leaders. But efforts to schedule meetings between the groups broke down into finger-pointing and mutual suspicion.

"We feel there is now a greater need for dialogue, as it would give us an opportunity to clarify our stand and highlight our contribution, not merely as Christians, but as citizens of the country," says Dominic Emmanuel of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India.

Emmanuel believes RSS chief K. S. Sudarshan's call to expel missionaries threatens minorities. "Faith is not bound by the national boundaries," he says.

Hindus accuse Christian leaders of withdrawing from the talks, but Emmanuel says, "We believe in the basic Christian teaching of loving one another and everyone." He wants reconciliation talks to include more than Hindus and Christians. (India includes sizable Muslim and Buddhist populations.)

"There was no question of withdrawal from the [meeting] as no one approached us," says Bishop Karam Masih of Dehli.

Masih, of the Church of North India, supports talks that would exclude politically motivated Hindu nationalist groups. He favors inviting only spiritual and religious leaders to the discussions.

Stopping conversions

Hindu nationalists want India to become officially Hindu. Some resist efforts by India's secular government ...

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