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Views & Reviews

Nagaland Baptist Church Council For Freedom of Religion

By EMN Updated: May 19, 2017 10:28 pm

India is home to diverse religious and ethnic groups. We celebrate its diversities and the provisions enshrined in its Constitution for the members of these diverse groups the privilege to enjoy their basic civil and political rights, and freedom to pursue their beliefs. But unfortunately, that is not always the case. The Nagaland Baptist Church Council is deeply alarmed at the reports of attacks on Christians and minorities in India which have considerably increased since 2011. Christianity has always been considered as non-Indic religion even though it is pre-colonial. Christians constitute less than 3% of the country’s population and apart from three Christian majority states, all of which are in the North East (Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya) and two other states such as Kerala and Goa which have significant percentage of Christians, the rest do not have any significant influence. States such as the above may not go through what other states go through, for example, Christians in states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh, the rules related to conversion, and the processes related to baptism have been made complicated. Christians face intimidation when they attempt to formalize their identity as Christians by official registrations. People who convert religion are mandated to seek permission from government agencies, which is clearly against the right to freedom of religion.

Recently the Nagaland unit of BJP in its 5th State Executive Meeting in Kohima has resolved to “safeguard the Christian faith.” This perhaps is one of its kind for a political party to courageously come out in defense of Christians who are minority in India. However, their disappointment expressed over the church in defending her own faith stands contrary. Of late, be it Christian or socio-culture minority, have gone through uncertainty with the rise of suppression of faith and practice that are not in line with the mainline practices. There is little doubt that power at the center is politically motivated to suppress the minority of their religio-socio-cultural practices. To cite few examples which affect the Christians in particular are, “Christmas Day” as Good Governance Day, “Resurrection/Easter Sunday as India Digital Day and minority in general are the “Uniform Civil Code” and “Cow Vigilante” and perhaps, there are others too which has led religious-socio-cultural minorities to feel insecure in a democratic and secular country.

The church being responsible for the well-being and safety of its members is obligated to examine and educate its members of the plans and policies of any political party which has made the Christians in particular and the social-cultural minorities in general to feel that the policies are designed to target at them. The secular credential of the party can only be trusted if it remains a purely political party and not motivated by any religious fundamentalists who seem at every turn seek to further their religious agenda. The church in Nagaland is thankful to the Chief Minister of Nagaland who wrote a strong resentment over the Indian Digital Day which was set to be observed on Easter Sunday and assured the church in Nagaland that such will not be observed in Nagaland on such a day which is considered by the Christians as a sacred day. Such a policy and few others are examples where the church has been cornered again and again.

To precisely state why NBCC has said that even though we are not for or against any political party, within or without, NBCC will stand to defend the Christian faith from any political party which threatens the church with its political agenda. The Christian community in the nation is well aware of the violence against religious minorities, especially those of the Dalit Christians and Muslims. Recently, Christians across the country resented the mass yoga or “Surya Namaskar” where students were force to take part. Whatever reason has been given, the church has claimed that it is pure harassment and violated the fundamental religious freedom. Communal riots, hate speeches and propaganda in recent times have become alarmingly high and are aimed at minorities leaving them to be defenseless even in the eyes of the law.

The stand of the church to defend her faith should not be construed as the church being against any political party. The church is only against the policies of the political party in whose hand the Christians are made to become insecure and defenseless. Apart from this we are not against any developmental program of the government. Our only message is to allow any religion to flourish peacefully without any interference and influence by the majority, maintaining the secular flavor as is guaranteed by the constitution.

By EMN Updated: May 19, 2017 10:28:02 pm