SECULAR CHARACTER OF INDIA UNDER THREAT!
The National Council of Churches in India expresses its deep concern over growing religious intolerance in our country, and targeted violence against the Christian community. The sustained hate campaigns have resulted in vicious attacks on our people, places of worship and our institutions. Such incidents of violence are taking place right across the country—Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. In the recent past, they are even happening in the national capital.
In addition to such attacks, there are other strategic ways in which efforts are being made to destabilize Christian faith and witness:
- Declaring 25th December, one of our holiest days, as ‘Good Governance Day’, showing no regard for the long standing tradition of the celebration of Christmas in the country, which has been a public holiday;
- The ghar wapsi campaign promoted by Hindutva groups is an overt and aggressive attempt to convert Christians and Muslims to Hinduism, portraying Christianity as a ‘foreign’ religion, despite evidence that Christians have been living on the sub-continent right from the first century.
- Though the Prime Minister had assured the Christian community of ‘freedom of choice’ regarding religion on 17 February 2015, and had earlier called for a 10 year moratorium on communal disharrmony in his independence day speech of 15 August 2014, he has made no explicit condemnation of the attacks on Christians and the increasing Hindutva propaganda
- The recent comments of Mr. Bhagwat about Mother Teresa are unwarranted
- The government under the pretext of stopping forced conversion (which Christians do not advocate or practice) seems to be intent on enacting an anti-conversation law, which we discern will be used against Christians, primarily to intimidate and to harass. It is against the spirit of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees the freedom to profess, preach and propagate one’s religion.
In this context we assert that
- A government order should be issued against all sorts of unsecular activities such as hate speeches, enforcing the study of a particular religious book in schools, politically manipulating forced re-conversions, prohibiting Christian congregations from assembling to worship, etc; and,
- Affirmative action should not be based on religion, but on social origin and consequent discrimination. The Presidential Order (1950) that discriminates against Dalit Christians and Muslims should be rescinded, as has been the recommendation of several government bodies, including the Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission.
The Christian community will continue to work for education and health care, and will serve the poor and marginalized. We once again reiterate our commitment to nation building. It is our commitment to Jesus Christ as well as our Nation.
(This statement is adopted by the Executive Committee of the National Council of Churches in India on the 27 Feb 2015 in Bangalore).