And if the voice of men in general is to weigh at all in a matter of this kind, it does but corroborate these instinctive feelings. A convert is undeniably in favor with no party; he is looked at with distrust, contempt, and aversion by all. His former friends think him a good riddance, and his new friends are cold and strange; and as to the impartial public, their very first impulse is to impute the change to some eccentricity of character, or fickleness of mind, or tender attachment, or private interest. Their utmost praise is the reluctant confession that "doubtless he is very sincere." Churchmen and Dissenters, men of Rome and men of the Kirk, are equally subject to this remark. Not on extraordinary occasions only, but as a matter of course, whenever the news of a conversion to Romanism, or to Irvingism, or to the Plymouth Sect, or to Unitarianism, is brought to us, we say, one and all of us: "No wonder, such a one has lived so long abroad"; or, "he is of such a very imaginative turn"; or, "he is so excitable and odd"; or, "what could he do? all his family turned"; or, "it was a reaction in consequence of an injudicious education"; or, "trade makes men cold," or "a little learning makes them shallow in their religion." If, then, the common voice of mankind goes for any thing, must we not consider it to be the rule that men change their religion, not on reason, but for some extra-rational feeling or motive? else, the world would not so speak.(from Private Judgement by John Henry Newman.
If anyone can speak with authority on this issue it is surely Newman. There was the Anglican chagrin at losing a star and the Catholic unease at gaining a personality they hardly knew what to do with. ‘Let’s send him off to the barbarian Irish, that’ll soften his cough’.
In India conversion is viewed very much askance by the Hindus the idea being that conversion can only have been through some inducement or other, communal identity being so important. Leaving your caste seems as impossible as getting a new set of fingerprints. I wonder if some sort of thing like this was exercising Deepak Sarma when he wrote
Huff and Puff
Putting on the Newman, putting on the style, everyone does it to some extent. If you join a Benedictine monastery for the cool black robes, that will soon get old.
Lo! when the wall is fallen, shall it not be said unto you, where is the daubing wherewith ye have daubed it?
Lo out loud, really!