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Christian leaders in India reject Hindu group's overtures

Move to include religious minority within nationalist RSS organization met with a resounding 'no'
Christian leaders in India reject Hindu group's overtures

Indian Christian children receive food distributed at a relief camp in Bhubaneswar set up for families fleeing communal violence at the hands of hardline Hindus in Kandhamal district in India's Odisha state in this 2008 file photo. Christian leaders in India have rejected a proposal by the right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh group to set up a Christian forum within its structure. (Photo by AFP)

Published: February 15, 2016 09:54 AM GMT
Updated: February 15, 2016 09:55 AM GMT

Christian leaders in India have rejected proposals from a Hindu nationalist group to form a separate forum for Christians.

Over 200 Christian leaders from various denominations met in New Delhi Feb. 13 to discuss the proposal by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS, which said in December it wanted a separate Christian organization within its structure.

"We are not supposed to engage with non-state actors. Our only guiding principal should be the constitution and the four fundamental values of democracy, justice, fraternity and equality," Delhi Archdiocese spokesman Father Savari Muthu who attended the discussion, told ucanews.com.

He said the RSS (national volunteer corps) "does not follow these four values and are anti-constitutional and anti-minorities. So there is no point talking to them."

Observers see the RSS proposal as an attempt to reach out to the Christian community amid accusations that the RSS, along with its political wing, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are stoking a climate of intolerance against minority religions in India.

The RSS is accused, especially by religious minorities, of trying to turn India into an exclusively Hindu nation.

Meeting participants noted what they say is the RSS' hatred of Christians and Muslims, expressed through violence and intimidation and is seen in various communal riots against religious minorities such as sectarian violence in Odisha in recent years.

As a result meeting participants felt the RSS proposal was part of a hidden agenda aimed at subverting Christianity in India.

John Dayal, spokesman of the United Christian Forum, which organized the meeting, told ucanews.com that there was an overall consensus not to engage in dialogue with an entity that has made its stand clear toward minorities.

"Not only the incidents of Christian persecution but the overall reaction of the Hindutva [Hindu] groups against civil society exposes their thinking, roots and ideology," said Dayal, who is a member of ucanews.com's board of directors and an occasional op-ed contributor.

"We would demand a larger discourse on the strengthening of secular, constitutional democracy in India," he said.



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