Skip to main content

Bishops and the lay leadership of the Church are "bending backwards" to please BJP and Sangh Parivar

By Prasad Chacko*
Last week the leadership (lay as well as clergy) of the Kerala Churches, and their political agents across parties, were seen crawling to be in the good books of the government at the Centre during the visit of Amit Shah. According to Church circles they met the National President of the BJP because he had expressed his wish to meet them. After the meeting they said that there was no political agenda to the meeting, and that they did not discuss any political issues.
The shameless overtures of almost all bishops since this government came to power are there for all to see. Except perhaps for the Church of South India and some fledgling churches or evangelical groups most of them would not desist from actively soliciting the Sangh and the BJP leadership. A group of Bishops from Kerala met Narendra Modi after the 2014 elections. It was despicable enough; but he was the PM, so any argument would be met with the common refrains like “He is the PM of the country”, and “He has not been convicted of any offence”.
You saw the vulgar scene of the Marthoma Syrian Church inviting Advani to the celebration of both the 90th Birthday and centenary celebration of its widely respected Metropolitan Philipose Mar Chrysostum. This despite the fact that the whole nation knows about the damage Advani has done to the polity of our nation by ushering in hate politics through the Ram Temple mobilization towards the destruction of the Babri Masjid resulting in hundreds of lives being lost in the violence that ensued. 
Most of these churches are controlled by the dominant Brahminical communities (yes, Brahminical, because they shamelessly believe that St. Thomas converted Brahmins in the first century A.D. and claim to be their descendants); and have nothing to do with the Nazarene (Jesus) who was born in a manger and walked the earth with the despised and ‘unclean’ and fishers and 'prostitutes' and lepers. 
It is visible in the way in which the Church as an institution operates; in the way the Church communicates to those in power; in the way in which the Church speaks to power. The Bishops act as representatives of those dominant communities and vested interest groups and institutions that comprise the Church; and also those who mediate the faith, the dogma and orthodoxy that makes it possible for them to control the minds of millions of the 'faithful'. 
The Syrian Christian community’s claims to Brahmin lineage and the fact that much of their rituals and practices are close to those of their caste Hindu counterparts makes it easier for the Sangh to co-opt them. A former Sar Sanchalak of the Sangh is known to have appreciated the Malankara Marthoma Syrian Church for being a fully indigenous Church with no allegiance to any foreign Churches. 
With the Sangh-BJP now in power in the Centre and marching ahead to capture the entire country, the Church considers it safer to be on the right side of the ruling dispensation. In every way this reeks of a pathetic compromise with the guiding values and principles that the Church leadership is expected to adhere to.
If one goes by the principles of Christianity the Christians are expected to stand up against all oppression and injustice to humanity. On that count the Bishops should grieve and wail for the blood of those massacred and raped in the attacks, genocides and destruction that our political outfits wreaked, be it 1984, 1992, 2000 (Nellie), 2002, Kandhamal, Kashmir or Muzzaffarnagar; the encounter killings that this diabolic politician called Amit Shah allegedly anchored and got away with after the BJP came to power; the scores of people who were killed and maimed in the name of beef; Dalits who have been humiliated and killed; the list is unending. 
If they followed Jesus, these Bishops and the Church leadership would have been expected to grieve for the lives lost, dignity trampled upon, the blood spilt – of not just Christians, but all human beings. It would have been more Christian to openly express that grief, pray for justice, making it know to Modi, Amit Shah and the Sangh where they stand on all these issues and exhort him, Modi, the Sangh and the BJP to abandon the diabolic politics of hatred that they are spearheading in this nation. 
The Bishops and the Church leadership should have publicly appealed to him to stop destroying this wonderful nation…They just needed to do that; but they need to do that in public. 
The Bishops are expected to live in poverty, counter hatred with love, following a great spiritual tradition that Jesus Christ had brought into this world. The Bishops do not need to speak like managers of institutions; or managers of votes; they do not have to speak in a language of hatred or anger; they need to just speak the plain truth in a voice of humility and love to these proponents of hate politics. 
But instead of that we have always seen the Bishops and the lay leadership of the Church bending backwards to please those in power, or to influence governments to benefit and protect the dominant groups in the community and institutions of the Church. You would see them going to any extent for complete freedom to run their educational institutions in the way they want without any governmental controls over the self-financed courses and the fees levied. Or in justifying the encroachments by dominant groups within the Church in the ecologicaly sensitive Munnar of the High Ranges (Sahyadri).
The crux of the Sangh-BJP political strategy would be to forge an anti-Muslim alliance between the caste Hindus and Syrian Christians. The potential opposition from Dalits and Adivasis have already been cracked by wooing the elements from these communities which have been sidelined over the years by both the alliances – UDF and LDF. Now it depends on how the LDF plays its cards. 
The Congress is likely to be neutralized by its Syrian Christian core as well as by the ambivalence its cadre is likely to display when the Sangh unleashes its subtle islamophobic agenda in the context of national security and terrorism. This is a sad and horrendous scenario. The last fortress of secularism and democracy in the country would fall, and these regressive Christian Churches and their leadership would be instrumental in this tragedy.
But the Catholic Church Bishops (and also the other Bishops) would do well to listen to the current Pope Francis and many such voices of the oppressed that ring out from various parts of the world. To be a ‘Poor Church’ and ‘Church of the Poor’…. This would definitely bring in a radical transformation within the Churches; it would have played a prophetic role in society. But that is not to be; it is sold out to the powerful and the dominant; it exists to preserve its riches and its institutions...
---
*Senior Ahmedabad-based activist

Comments

TRENDING

It's now official: Developed Gujarat's regular, casual workers earn less than 19 top states

By Rajiv Shah
Though not as low as state chief minister Vijay Rupani claims it to be (0.9%), Gujarat’s unemployment rate, at least as reflected in a recent report released by the Government of India, is 4.8%, lower than the national average, 6%. Yet, ironically, the same report, released soon after the Lok Sabha polls came to an end in May 2019, brings to light an even grimmer reality: Lower wages in "model" and "developed" Gujarat compared to virtually the whole of India, including the so-called Bimaru states.

Amaravati: World Bank refusing to share public grievances on Land Pooling Scheme

By Our Representative
A new report, prepared by the advocacy group Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), New Delhi, has taken strong exception to the World Bank refusing to share its independent assessment of the Land Pooling Scheme (LPS), floated by the Andhra Pradesh government in order to build the new capital.

Telangana govt proposes to give unfettered powers to forest officials, 'help' corporates

By Dr Palla Trinadha Rao*
The Telangana Government is contemplating to replace the Telangana Forest Act 1967 with a new law - the Telangana Forest Act (TFA) 2019, trampling the rights of adivasis ensured under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA Act 2006) and Panchayats Extension to Schedule Area (PESA) Act 1996 both of which are central acts.

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

By Rajiv Shah
“The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.

RSS, Hindu Mahasabha were 'subservient' to British masters: Nagpur varsity VC told

Counterview Desk
Well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam, associate professor (retired), University of Delhi, in an open letter to the vice-chancellor of the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Dr Siddharthavinayaka P Kane, has taken strong exception to the varsity decision to include RSS’ “role” in nation building in the syllabus of the BA (history) course, citing instances to say that the RSS ever since its birth in 1925 with its Hindutva allies like Hindu Mahasabha led by VD Savarkar worked overtime to “betray the glorious anti-colonial freedom struggle”.

Beijing-based infrastructure bank 'funding' India's environmentally risky projects

By Our Representative
A new civil society note has questioned the operations of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to fund projects in India through the Government of India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF), calling it “a risky venture”.

Govt of India 'lying': MGNREGA budget reduced by Rs 1,084 crore in 2019-20

Counterview Desk
NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, a well-known advocacy group for the rural jobs guarantee scheme, under implementation since 2005, has said that the statement by the Rural Development Minister has a made a mockery of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) on the floor of Parliament, revealing the ruling BJP’s “anti-worker and anti-poor bias”.

Include all workers exposed to silica dust in anti-TB programme: Govt of India told

Counterview Desk
In a letter, sponsored by well-known civil rights organization, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India and signed by more than 60 professionals and activists*, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has been told that Indian policy makers shouldn't just acknowledge higher TB risk to mine and stone crusher workers, but also “other silica-exposed workers”.

Universal healthcare? India lacks provisions to 'fight' non-communicable diseases

By Moin Qazi*
Universal health coverage (UHC) -- ensuring that all people receive proper and adequate health care without suffering financial hardship -- is an integral part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It enables countries to make the most of their strongest asset: human capital.

Govt of India seeks to 'subvert' autonomy of adjudicating authorities: RTI amendment

Counterview Desk
India's independent Right to Information watchdog, The National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI), in a statement, has said that the Government of India’s proposed amendments to the RTI Act to empower the Centre to unilaterally decide the tenure, salary, allowances and other terms of service of Information Commissioners at the Centre and States “seriously undermine” the law.