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Telangana Christians want church inside state secretariat

Umbrella group calls on Telangana authorities to bring back prayer gatherings in new secretariat

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Telangana Christians want church inside state secretariat

Christmas celebrations underway on Dec. 25, 2018, at a church in Hyderabad, the capital of Telangana state in southern India. (Photo: IANS/UCAN)

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A body representing prominent churches in the southern Indian state of Telangana has urged the state government to build a church along with a temple and a mosque in the new secretariat.

The Federation of Telugu Churches, an body of churches in the state, also reminded their chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao about a regular prayer previously conducted in the old secretariat building.

“Christian workshops were conducted every Wednesday during the lunch break,” in the old secretariat, according to Father Anthoniraj Thumma, executive secretary of the federation.

Father Thumma said in a press note on July 13 that “this time we have requested a different church building, which the mosque and temple had.

“On previous occasions, we have requested the government for the allotment of land in the secretariat. This is a long-pending request.”

He said that Christians and people from other faiths have been participating in those prayer services but since the old secretariat being demolished, “we appeal to you to provide the church building which you have promised,” the press release said.

The request letter addressed to the chief minister was signed by federation's Executive Secretaries Father Thumma and B Danam. It added that the federation "is immensely grateful to you for your kind efforts in safeguarding secularism" in the new state.

“We also would like to say thank you for treating all religions equally by celebrating their festivals officially at the state and district levels,” the letter said.

The letter also mentioned the federation's gratitude to the state authority for assuring the safety and security of the Christian community by allotting land for Christian burial grounds in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) area.

The letter that “building a church will send a positive message to prove the secular credentials of your Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government.”

The TRS is a political party based in Telangana and was founded on April 27, 2001 by K. Chandrashekar Rao, with a single-point agenda of creating a separate Telangana state with Hyderabad as its capital.

The federation is the body of archbishops and bishops of mainline churches and heads of major Christian denominations in the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

The federation members come from the Catholic Church, the Protestant Church of South India as well as Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist Mennonite, Salvation Army, and other denominations.

Christians are a minority in Telangana, forming an estimated 1.2 million of a population of some 35 million people. Most Christians come from socially poor Dalit castes, while Catholics constitute roughly half of all Christians in the state.

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