ASIA/INDIA - The trishul or the cross? Appeal not to abandon Christian principles

Monday, 19 February 2018 nationalisms   religious minorities   religious freedom   extremism   politics   hinduism   human rights  

Kohima (Agenzia Fides) - Choose between the trishul and the cross: is the appeal addressed to voters by the Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC) - the largest Christian organization in the state of Nagaland (eastern India) – in view of the general elections in the state of Nagaland, which will be held on February 27, 2018, to elect 60 representatives of the state Parliament. In an open letter addressed to all the citizens of Nagaland and sent to Agenzia Fides, the NBCC asks believers to "choose between trishul (the "trishul", a typical trident from southern India, used as a Hindu religious symbol) and the cross", launching a campaign in Christian communities to warn against the Hindu religious nationalism that is spreading in the state.
The organization invites believers "not to abandon Christian principles and faith, only because they are seduced by money offered by those whose hands seek to pierce the heart of Jesus Christ". The NBCC notes that "India experienced the worst persecution against minority religious communities in the two-year period 2015-2017, under the rule of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Hindu nationalist party".
"We cannot deny - says the text sent to Fides - that the Hindutva movement in the country has become strong and invasive in an unprecedented manner over the last few years with the BJP, the political wing of the RSS". And he continues: "God must be weeping when Naga politicians are running after those who seek to destroy Christianity in India".
"Strongly opposing what it called the invasion of Hindutva forces in Nagaland", NBCC Secretary General Rev Keyho said that the party in the federal government "is fighting tooth and nail to assert its presence in Nagaland, a Christian-majority state".
The letter continues by warning of "propaganda" and recalling: "We must be fully aware that persecutions have been tripled in recent years: Pastors, Christian faithful and missionaries are dragged openly in the streets, harassed and insulted and many made to suffer. Their homes destroyed and children discriminated in schools. Worship places were burnt down and believers are often disturbed and harassed. The Bible is openly burnt and confiscated".
The elections in Nagaland state are usually focused on tribal issues, as most of the candidates are Christians from different indigenous groups, who confront each other on social and economic issues. The Open Letter thus represents an unprecedented fact for its openly political-religious tones.
Christianity is the most widespread religion in Nagaland. Out of a population of about 2.2 million, mainly a tribal majority, Christians are 90%. The Naga, the main ethnic group, more than 96% declare they are Christian. (PN-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 19/2/2018)