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Church \ Church in Asia

India’s Christian Churches voice concern ‎

Indian Christians protest Dec. 1 fire that destroyed St. Sebastian's Church in New Delhi.  - AP

Indian Christians protest Dec. 1 fire that destroyed St. Sebastian's Church in New Delhi. - AP

22/12/2014 15:56

The Christian Churches of India have expressed “serious concern” over the current situation of minorities in the country,  particularly Christians.  The National United Christian Forum (NUCF) comprising the three leading Churches of India, namely, The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) and the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI),  issued a joint statement on Sunday.  They cited episodes and provocations such as forcing a Catholic school in Bastar to put up the statue of Hindu goddess, Saraswati, the burning of a church in Delhi; the declaration of ‘Good Governance Day’ on 25th December to undermine the importance of Christmas;  and the call by some fundamentalists to convert 4000 Christians to Hinduism on Christmas.

The Churches strongly opposes the call for a national ban on conversion as raised by a minister in the Rajya Sabha saying it would amount to a direct attack on individual’s freedom of conscience to choose one’s faith and on the freedom to profess, practice and propagate the faith of one’s choice, enshrined in the Constitution.  The Churches reiterated they forbid religious conversion by force or by fraudulent means and fully support the government to take any appropriate action against anyone under the already stringent existing laws of the country.    They appealed to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to remind all that no development can take place in the country by disrupting peaceful communal harmony.   India’s Christians stated that it cannot contribute to the nation’s development if harassed and labeled as anti-national. 

 

Below is the joint statement of the three Church associtions of India:

We, the members of the National United Christian Forum (NUCF) comprising the three leading Churches of India, i.e. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) and the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), together express our serious concern about the current situation of the minorities, particularly the Christians in India.
The recent happenings in Bastar forcing the school to put the statue of SarsawatiMaa in a Catholic school and forbidding the children to address the principle with the honorific ‘Father’; the burning of a church in Delhi; the declaration of ‘Good Governance Day’ on 25th December to undermine the importance of Christmas; the provocative call by some fundamentalists to convert 4000 Christians to Hinduism in Agra on Christmas Day and the regular targeting of the Christian community, calling them even anti-national is a cause of great concern for us.
The Christian Community being a small minority of just 2.33 percent of the Indian population doing its day to day work in a peaceful manner and setting a good example of how dutiful citizens must abide by law, is highly distressed with the types of announcements and statements made by certain groups belonging to a right wing ideology.
Christmas is the only holiday that we Christians have in the whole year when we join the rest of the world in celebrating the birth of the ‘Prince of Peace’ our Lord Jesus Christ. A circular by the Navodaya School Commissioner to keep certain government run schools open on that day is perceived by the Christian Community as an insult to the importance of Christmas Day. 
We also strongly oppose the call for a national ban on conversion as raised by a minister in the Rajya Sabha as this would amount to a direct attack on individual’s freedom of conscience to choose one’s faith and on the freedom to profess, practice and propagate the faith of one’s choice, enshrined in article 25 of our Constitution. The secular nature of our Constitution with different freedoms was put in there after lengthy debate on this issue by the founding fathers.
We would like to reiterate that Churches forbid religious conversion by force or by fraudulent means and we fully support the government to take any appropriate action against anyone under the already stringent existing laws of the country.
We appeal to the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi to remind the people that no development can take place in the country if there are attempts to disrupt the peaceful communal harmony prevailing in the country for centuries. The Christian Community has been always in the forefront of providing service to the nation and would continue with its commitment to make its unique contribution for further development of our motherland. But the Community cannot do that if it is being constantly harassed and labeled as being anti-national believing in a foreign religion. Christianity has been on this land for nearly 2000 years.
 

22/12/2014 15:56