Skip to main content

'Agnes of God': Jesuit rights activist tells Christian groups not to be part of ban culture, Jesus was against it

By Our Representative
Well-known Ahmedabad-based Jesuit human rights activist Father Cedric Prakash has taken strong exception to certain Christian groups in Mumbai seeking ban on the play “Agnes of God”, directed by Kaizaad Kotwal. Protesting against staging of the play, Catholic Secular Forum and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India sought ban on its production, saying it was a “misrepresentation” of Christian beliefs.
An American film made in 1985, ‘Agnes of God’ is based on a play (written in 1982) by John Pielmeier. The plot hovers around a young nun, her mysterious pregnancy and a dead baby. The nun insists that the child was of a ‘virgin conception’. “Both the original play and the film did not seem to have ‘offended’ people across the world all these years and even in Mumbai when it was first staged some years ago”, Prakash says.
Prakash reminds Catholic groups, “Article 19 of the Constitution of India guarantees every Indian citizen the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. This same right also resonates in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.
Heading Christian human rights NGO Prashant, which works among marginalized communities, he adds, “A healthy democracy has to promote freedom of thought and expression at every level and must have the courage to respect dissenting opinions and other voices. The only ‘ban’ that could be accepted on this freedom is a commitment to ‘ban the ban’.”
Prakash wonders, “Those protesting against the play might think they have scored some ‘brownie points’ but on the flipside they may have done the play a world of good because now with the free advertisement provided, several will now have heard of ‘Agnes of God’; will surely download the film, buy a DVD and even want to see the play!”
Reminding the Christian groups seeking ban on ‘Agnes of God’ that “for a disciple of Jesus, the ‘ban culture’ should be something that one should desist from”, Prakash insists in an article he has forwarded to Counterview, “Jesus took a stand on several issues of his time but he did not ban the women who brought their children to be blessed by him nor did he ban that sinful woman who wanted to anoint his feet with precious ointment.”
Pointing out that those who disagreed, “Jesus reasoned out with them, dialogued; he asserted his point of view”, Prakash underlines, “In his life on earth, Jesus very clearly shows us that his mission was inclusive. He welcomed sinners of every kind: those who exploited others to those who were adulterous.”
According to Prakash, “In all this, Jesus took an unequivocal stand for truth and justice. He had no qualms in calling the powerful and vested interests ‘a brood of vipers’ and ‘whitened sepulchres’. He identified himself totally with the victims of society knowing full well that it was they who needed someone to take up cudgels on their behalf. He was also sensitive; taking extra precautions not to hurt others unnecessarily.”
Asking Christian groups to desist from joining the ban culture, currently pervading India, Prakash says, “In the recent past, we have witnessed and experienced a spate of bans all over the country. People want to ban what we eat and what we do; what we see and what we read; Indian girls ‘should not dress up like this’ or ‘should not be out late at night’.”
Then, he adds, there have been instances where Muslims and Christians would not be permitted to enter a garba mandap in parts of Gujarat. “The list is endless indeed”, he says, adding, “The ‘ban culture’ is symptomatic of a society becoming more fundamentalist, fanatic and fascist.”

Comments

TRENDING

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Modi model? "Refusal" to build Narmada's micro canals, keep Kutch dry; help industry

By Medha Patkar*
This is the latest photograph of the Kutch Branch Canal (KBC) of the Sardar Sarovar, as of April 8! What does it show, expose, and what memories do you recall? Is it dry or dead? Is it a canal or a carcass of the same?

Bill Gates "promoting" GMO, Bt cotton, like cartels that have roots in Hitler's Germany

By Our Representative
World-renowned environmental leader and ecologist Dr Vandana Shiva has expressed concern that Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation, has joined the bandwagon of “a poison cartel of three" – Monsanto and Bayer, Syngenta and ChemChina, Dow and DuPont – all of whom allegedly have “roots in Hitler’s Germany and finding chemicals to kill people”.

Indian talc products contain "contaminated" asbestos structures, can cause cancer: Study

Counterview Desk
A recent study, using polarizing light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), electron diffraction, and X-ray analysis on multiple over-the-counter Indian talc products for the presence of asbestos, has concluded that large quantities of body talc products are likely to pose a public health risk for asbestos-related diseases, especially for the cancers related to asbestos exposure.

Why are you silent on discrimination against Dalit jawans? Macwan questions Modi

By Rajiv Shah
Close on the heels of releasing his book in Gujarati, "Bhed Bharat", which lists 319 cases of atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis across the country over the last five years, well-known Gujarat Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan has shot an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, telling him the reasons why he does not want vote for the BJP.

Jharkhand Adivasi lynched to death by mob "chanting" Jai Shri Ram: Fact-finding team

Counterview Desk
On April 10, 2019, Prakash Lakda, a 50-year old Adivasi of Jurmu village of Gumla’s Dumri block, was lynched to death by a mob of men from the Sahu community of neighbouring Jairagi village. Three other victims from Jurmu – Peter Kerketta, Belarius Minj and Janerius Minj – sustained severe injuries due to the beating by the mob. A fact-finding team of Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM), comprising of several activists and representatives of member organisations, conducted a fact-finding inquiry into the incident on April 14-15.

Investigation shows Narmada downstream "seriously" polluted. Reason: apathy, greed

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant, Swati Desai*
Our investigation regarding quality of water flowing in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD), dated April 6, 2019, between 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. reiterates, what is commonly known now, that the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) is planned without considering its impact on the downstream Narmada River stretch of 161 kilometres, its ecology, biodiversity and fishery, and lakhs of people living close to and dependent on the river directly or indirectly. This, in turn, has led to its present disastrous state.

Emergence of a rare Dalit teacher in IIT-Kanpur "disturbed" certain faculty members

By PS Krishnan, IAS (Retd)*
Dr Subrahmanyam Sadrela, a faculty member in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur since January 1, 2018, and one of the rare Dalit members of the faculty in IIT group of institutions, is facing the threat of revocation of his PhD thesis, and thereby also jeopardizing his job and career.

RTE in remote areas? Govt of India "plans" to close down 2.4 lakh schools

By Srijita Majumder*
The Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, came into effect on April 1, 2010, for the first time made it obligatory on the part of the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children from 6-14 years of age in India. The Act, despite its limitations, had progressive elements like neighbourhood schools, community participation, ban on corporal punishment, no detention, continuous and comprehensive evaluation and it hence it appeared that India was not far from achieving universal elementary education.

Election Commission suffering from worst-ever "credibility crisis": Ex-bureaucrats

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, a group of ex-bureaucrats have lamented ‘weak-kneed’ responses of the Election Commission of India (ECI) in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Citing various violations of the model code of conduct, and pointing towards how ECI has taken little action, the letter asks the President to tell ECI to “conduct itself in a manner where its independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency are not questioned.”