Statement of North West India Council of Churches

Churches in India are concerned about the changing political scenario in the country. There are instances of growing right wing fundamentalism. The space for freedom of expression is being curtailed. At the same time the patriotism of religious minorities is being questioned.  It is in this context that churches want to see the country standing by its secular constitution and all the rights that it entails for the citizens, along with their responsibilities. As an example, kindly find a below a statement of a meeting of the  North West India Council of Churches which was articulated in May 2018 which asserts the commitment of Christians to stand for secular values and their practice in our country:

 

The Participants of various Member Churches and organisation of North West India Council of Churches gathered at the premises of National Council of YMCA on 11th of May 2018 to participate in a workshop organised on ‘Secularism at Cross Roads‘.

Floods! Fundamentalism! Franchise!

Matters of Public Concern addressed  by the General Body of the National Council of Churches in India in its meeting in Chennai on 29th August 2018

 

  1. FLOODS IN KERALA AND IN PARTS OF KARNATAKA AND TAMIL NADU

The National Council of Churches in India expresses its deep pain and distress over the loss of hundreds of lives due to the massive floods, overflowing rivers and dams, and a series of gigantic landslides which have also displaced tens of thousands of people, causing colossal destruction of their belongings, consequently leading to immeasurable misery and hardship. Not only more than four hundred precious lives have been lost, but also cattle and other livestock have perished. The affected people are subject to suffer from various diseases such as cholera, typhoid and other health hazards. Irreplaceable damage has been caused to the eco-balance of the region.

The NCCI affirms its solidarity with the suffering people and all creation of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamilnadu.

The NCCI appreciates the invaluable disaster relief support rendered by its member Churches and organizations. At the same time it appeals to all the constituent members to continue to provide help in the arduous process of relief and rehabilitation, which lies ahead.

  1. TEN YEARS OF “KANDHAMAL”

The NCCI expresses its deep concern and anguish with regard to the continued suffering of Christian survivors of the Kandhamal massacre even after 10 years of its happening. The carnage was one of the worst of its kind against Christians in the past 100 years. Despite the fact, that in the process of inquiry, many officials have testified that the allegations against Christians are false, the local Christian community still continues to struggle. Many people are still languishing in prison. The rightful compensation on relief and rehabilitation from government is so slow that people are losing hope in their own government.

Right wing fundamental forces are becoming more and more aggressive over the past five years. The NCCI strongly condemns the rather slow, indeed disinterested, action of the concerned authorities in Odisha, and urges the government to pay the announced compensation to the victims, speed up the rehabilitation process, and release the innocent people languishing in prison. Justice delayed is justice denied.

  1. CALL TO RESPONSIBLE CITIZENSHIP

The NCCI urges all Indian Christian citizens to carry out their responsibilities in the country. This concern is urgent because of certain undesirable trends in the country which are on the increase since the past five years. The so called liberalization and development policies and strategies of the government (while apparently benefiting the middles class along with the rich and the millionaires), are constricting, oppressing and exploiting the poor, particularly dalits and tribals/adivasis. The patriarchal and consumerist culture of our society is seriously, indeed cruelly victimizing women and children. Right wing fundamentalism is allied with globalizing  systems, thereby quenching the spirit of democratic secularism which our Indian Constitution affirms. Religious minorities are being hounded. Whether it is our FCRAs, governance of educational institutions, operation of our medical and social services, our freedom to worship and give witness to the gospel, or our food and dress culture, they are all subject to the constricting laws of the ruling authorities and the vigilantism and impunity of fundamentalist forces.  Not only religious minorities but citizens in general are subject to scrutiny. Dissent and criticism are not tolerated; persons are being arrested, being branded as anti-national.

We are also witnessing the political atmosphere getting charged with assembly elections in some states and the country-wide General Elections in 2019 drawing near. It is the bounden duty of the government to ensure peace and free and fair elections.  At the same time the NCCI urges its member Churches and organizations to unite in creating awareness among the people about the importance of making responsible use of our right of political franchise. Voting is our right which would help our country to be back on the rails of true democracy. Christians are therefore urged to be proactive in the participation of the elections.

Statement of the Consultation for Church Leaders of the Southern Region on “Prophetic Role of Church Leaders in the midst of Injustices”

National Council of Churches in India – Dalit and Tribal/ Adivasi Concerns

Statement of the Consultation for Church Leaders of the Southern Region on “Prophetic Role of Church Leaders in the midst of Injustices”

In partnership with EMW Germany, Christian Service Agency and Church of South India | held from 24 – 26 July 2018 at CSI Centre, Royapettah, Chennai (TN)

 

S T A T E M E N T

 

We, 46 delegates from the Member Churches, Regional Councils and All India Christian Organisations of National Council Churches in India met at the Consultation for the Church Leaders of the Southern Regions of India in partnership with Evangelisches Missionswerk in Deutschland (EMW Germany), Christian Service Agency (CSA) and Church of South India (CSI) from 24th -26th July 2018 at CSI Centre, Royapettah, Chennai on the theme: “Prophetic Role of Church Leaders in the midst of Injustices” with the following objectives:

  1. To re-read the Bible from Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi perspectives.
  2. To bring contextual awareness of Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi issues, and the imperative importance of Liberation, Equality, Justice and their Rights
  3. To motivate the church/congregation to participate actively in the struggles of oppressed and marginalized people
  4. To encourage the member churches of the NCCI to bring out educational policy guidelines from predominantly Dalit and Adivasi perspectives, which could be used by the institutions of the Churches. This education policy will help the excluded Dalit and Adivasi students to obtain more space.
  5. To make an assessment of the Church’s position and response to the current political situation in the country
  6. To struggle for participation space of Dalits and Tribals/ Adivasis in the decision making process of the Church and Society

And through various deliberations we realise and condemn: Read more

Celebrate Democracy Day!

15th August and 26th January are important days for all Indians, including people belonging to minority communities. 15th August is the day of freedom from colonial rule, the independence of the country, and governing of the country by its own leaders. 26th January is the day of affirming that we are a democratic socialist republic with our own constitution, and our commitment to uphold the constitution in our racially, biologically, ethnically, and religiously pluralistic country.

However we are living in times where democracy and all the values and principles of our constitution are being eroded or given a new meaning. It is becoming the rule (cracy) of people who claim to represent a majority religious community, asserting that they are the primary citizens (demos) of India. Indian democracy is being degenerated into a communal understanding of India as a “nation of Hindus.” As has been said by one of their leaders,

“Nation Concept comprises the five constituent ideas—country, race, religion, culture and language—as the necessary and indispensable ingredients, in the existence of which five in a homogeneous whole, the Nation exists and in the destruction of any one of which the Nation itself experiences extinction.

If, as is indisputably proved, Hindusthan is the land of the Hindus and is the terra firma for the Hindu nation alone to flourish upon, what is to be the fate of all those, who, today, happen to live upon the land, though not belonging to the Hindu Race, Religion and culture?

. . . we must bear in mind that so far as ‘nation’ is concerned, all those, who fall outside the five-fold limits of that idea, can have no place in the national life, unless they abandon their differences, adopt the religion, culture and language of the Nation and completely merge themselves in the National Race. So long, however, as they maintain their racial, religious and cultural differences, they cannot but be only foreigners, who may be either friendly or inimical to the Nation. . .”

Thus we are confronted with Hindutva  Nationocracy. As mentioned in a press release two years ago, “Today our society is witness to increasing religious polarization and fear; and attacks on women, Dalits, Adivasis, religious minorities and working people; the criminal neglect of agriculture leading to an epidemic of farmer suicides; the theft of natural resources; and attacks on livelihoods and workers’ rights; gender violence; the neglect of persons with disabilities; discrimination against Dalit students in schools and universities across the country; and the persecution of people marginalised on the basis of their gender identity and sexual orientation. Worst of all, the members and allies of the so-called Sangh Parivar are bent upon curbing our freedoms. They tell people what to wear, write and speak; whom to love and what to eat.” Even persons such as Swami Agnivesh (Social activist and Bandhua Mukti Morcha leader) are not spared.  The Swami said there was a pattern in an assault on him at Pakur on 17th July 2018  in Jharkhand and incidents of mob attacks by vigilante groups on dalits and minorities which appeared “state sponsored”.

Let us celebrate democracy!

This most diverse country in the world belongs equally to all persons who make it its own, regardless of their religious faith (or for that matter, their denial of faith), their caste, gender, class, language, ethnicities, physical and mental abilities, gender identity and sexual orientation. This is the promise that we had made to ourselves during the Independence movement. This is the soul of India’s secular, socialist democratic Constitution.

Let us as Indian Christians, celebrate the spirit and purpose of our independence in our churches and in our mission services. Let us celebrate our democracy along with all like–minded fellow citizens of India. As 15th August 2018 approaches let us give meaningful expressions of our Indian democracy based on our constitution. Let us not only sing the national anthem and salute the Indian Tri-colour but, while praying for the country, also affirm:

JUSTICE, social, economic and political;

LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; 

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all; and 

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual, and the unity and integrity of all Indians

 

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad,
General Secretary,
National Council of Churches in India.

 

Maharashtra Manthan 2018: Strengthening secularism

Report of Maharashtra Manthan 2018-19: Strengthening Secularism
NCCI , EFI, UM | 30th April – 2nd May 2018 | M.L.A. Hostel, Nagpur.

“Maharashtra Manthan : Strengthening Secularism”, a 3 days seminar organized by National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) and United Maharashtra (UM), was held at MLA Hostel, Nagpur from April 30 to May 2, 2018. More than 75 people which included youth and female participants from different cities of Maharashtra state participated in this seminar. There were 8 women participants and about 25 young people.

30th April 2018 (Day 1)

Maharashtra Manthan started at 12:45 pm with an opening prayer by Pastor Amit Manwatkar. The Coordinator of the Maharashtra Manthan was Rev. Devashish Dubey who introduced the concept of Maharashtra Manthan to the participants. He emphasized that the main objective of Maharashtra Manthan 2018 is to bring awareness about the contemporary contextual situation in the country among the participants and to guide the community and society in building new, sensitized and responsible leadership through the training.  Mr. Pradip Bansrior (NCCI Representative) presented the guidelines for the two and half day’s seminar to all participants.

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NCCI condemns act of labelling candidates for constable post as SC/ST/ OBC on their chests

Pic Source: zeenews.india.com

Despite the right to non-discrimination on the basis of race or caste enshrined in Article 15 of the Indian Constitution, discrimination against SCs and STs is pervasive. Markings of “SC” for scheduled caste, “ST” for scheduled tribe, “O” for OBC (other backward class) and “G” for General, of candidates for the post of constable on their chests in a bid to identify their castes during their medical examination in Dhar district of BJP ruled state, Madhya Pradesh, is not only a violation of human rights but also a criminal offence under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.

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A CALL FOR COMMUNITY RESPONSIBILITY

REPENT AND REFORM, O BELOVED COUNTRY!

Shame, O Beloved Country! 

The two recent instances of the shameful rapes of young girls in the states of Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh have brought ignominy to India. Such incidents keep on happening. The body of an 11 year old girl was raped, tortured and strangulated to death was found in Surat about 13 days ago. A 17-year-old girl was gang-raped in Patna early on 14th April 2018 in Patna. On the same day a 24 year old woman was said to be gang-raped by two youth on Yamuna Expressway. It is indeed ironic and horrible that Indians, who worship many Goddesses daily, have no respect for the country’s girls and women.

Worse still, in Kashmir as police tried to file charges against the men in the town of Kathua, local lawyers shouted Hindu nationalist slogans and tried to block investigators from entering the courthouse. BJP ministers in Jammu and Kashmir state’s coalition government attended rallies in support of the accused that were organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch, a nationalist group.

Similarly in the Unnao, Uttar Pradesh, the girl who was raped tried to kill herself on April 8, 2018 in front of the home of Yogi Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh chief minister, alleging the police had refused to register her case. A day later, her father died in police custody after he was beaten by Sengar’s brother, who has since been arrested.

Vrinda Grover, a Supreme Court lawyer who specializes in sexual assault cases, remarks, “Systems are manipulated from the investigation stage onwards, the processes of law are subverted by those in power. The Unnao case is the most brazen illustration of this. . . The police facilitated the beating to death of the father of the girl. If the police is going to not act according to the law, but at the behest of the accused, then there can be no hope for justice. Today, law and justice are a mirage that we are offering the women of this country.”

In addition to this culture of sexual violence and rape, there are several other evils our country is experiencing. Religious minority groups, particularly Muslims and Christians, continue to face increasing demonization by hardline Hindu groups, pro-government media and some state officials. Adivasi communities continue to be displaced by industrial projects, and hate crimes against Dalits remain widespread. Authorities are openly critical of human rights defenders and organizations, contributing to a climate of hostility against them. Mob violence, including that by vigilante cow protection groups, is being intensified. Press freedom and free speech in universities has been coming under attack. The Supreme Court and High Courts deliver several progressive judgments, but some rulings undermined human rights. Impunity for human rights abuses persists.

And much it grieves our hearts to think what humans have made of humans!

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Open Letter to Prime Minister of India | End Culture of Rape & Sexual Violence on Girls, Children & Women in India!

Date: 16th April 2018

To

Sri Narendra Modi,
Honourable Prime Minister in India,
South Block, Raisina Hill,
New Delhi -110011

Open Letter to Prime Minister of India
End Culture of Rape & Sexual Violence on Girls, Children & Women in India !

 

Honourable Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi,

Greetings from the National Council of Churches in India.

National Council of Churches represents around 14 million Christians in India from Reformation and Syrian Christian Traditions.

We write this letter at the darkest hour of our country when our Government is failing to protect girls, women and children. We express our deep anguish and pain, regarding the barbaric and heinous act of gang rape and murder of the little eight year old girl in Kathua and the rape of young 20 year old girl from Unnao in Uttar Pradesh.

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An Open Letter from Bishop Most Revd Thomas K. Oommen (Moderator, Church of South India) to the Fellow Citizens of India.

ABSTRACT

  • As an Indian Citizen and the Head of the Second Largest Church in India, with more than 4.5 Million members, most of them being dalits, Adivasis, poor farmers and fisherfolks, I hereby share the fear my people have under the rule of a Government that has become a nightmare to the poor and the minorities in India.
  • It is true and sad fact that the current Government that follows the Hindutva supremacist ideology seems to have consciously discounted what is stated in the Preamble of our Indian Constitution that declares liberty, equality, and fraternity as its ideals and assures Social, Economic and Political Justice to the citizens of India.
  • The Government proves to be pro-corporate and unkind to the poor by waiving off loans of rich people and corporate while not waiving of the loans of the poor farmers, not giving Minimum Support Price (MSP) to them, not addressing the issues of economic distress, joblessness, price rise by forcefully implementing policies like ‘Demonetization’ and GST. In fact, corruption and scams/scandals have become a hallmark of this Government.
  • The Church of South India demands that the Government at the centre ensures the democratic and secular fabric of India to be safeguarded instead of promoting their Hindutva agenda for which they demolish Churches and Mosques, vandalizes religious statues and symbols, persecutes Christians and Muslims, change school textbooks, insert dogmatic and pseudo-scientific religious content, ban films, books, festivals of minorities claiming that they to “offend” the Hindu nationalist sentiments.
  • The Church of South India not only stands in solidarity with the Dalits fighting for justice and equality and agitating against alleged “dilution” of the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989, but also condemns all atrocities against the Dalits, that tortures, rapes and brutal murders by the Hindutva extremist forces.
  • Church of South India also strongly demands that recommendations of the Ranganath Mishra Commission and the Sachar Committee for reservation to Dalits of Christian and Muslim minority communities be implemented.
  • On this day on April 06, 1930, at the end of the ‘Salt March’, Mahatma Gandhi raised a lump of mud and salt and declared, “With this, I am shaking the foundations of the British Empire”. Today, on April 06, 2018, I urge my fellow citizens in India to unite together and shake the foundations of another empire being built by the corporate fascists.

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Extremists who seek to victimize those of another faith are strongly condemned

Extremists who seek to victimize those of another faith are strongly condemned

 

 

Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

05 April 2018

Extremists who prey upon believers of other faiths in the name of their religion or belief are to be called out and condemned for their “abhorrent incitement” in the strongest terms, says World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit.

“The freedom of religion and belief is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which this year celebrates its 70th anniversary and is also part of the constitutions of so many nations in the world. So, it is abhorrent and ungodly for any person from one faith to call for iniquitous acts against those belonging to another religion; merely because they follow that belief,” said Tveit.

His comments came after the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the largest Arab-American civil rights organization in the United States, said it is outraged by hateful and violent fliers encouraging people to take part in “Punish a Muslim Day”.

”Freedom of religion is as much about Christian minorities in Muslim countries as it is about followers of Islam in countries where Christians are a majority,” noted the general secretary.

The ADC made its call on 29 March in response to the vile campaign designed to stir up hatred between believers of different faiths, which originated in London, where flyers instigating violence against Muslims were left at the steps of several mosques.

It said the fliers have also alarmed communities across the United States in their singling out of American Arabs and Muslims.

ACT Alliance, the WCC’s partner organization, was quick to condemn the incitement to hate, tweeting #BanPunishAMuslimDay, saying “We believe that all persons are created in the image of God. Therefore, we act in ways that respect dignity, uniqueness, and the intrinsic worth and human rights of all people.”

Source: https://www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/extremists-who-seek-to-victimize-those-of-another-faith-are-strongly-condemned