The National Dalit Christian Watch (NDCW) expresses its deep anguish and displeasure against the recent unwarranted, unethical and un-Christian remark made by Mar Joseph Kallarangat of the Syro Malabar Church, Bishop of Pala, that ‘Narcotics Jihad is being used to lure Christian Youth.’
This disparaging remark has caused, not only an unprecedented controversy in the socio – religio political spheres of Kerala and across India but also has an adverse element of instigating all religious fundamentalist outfits, to take advantage of their Islamophobiac perception and position. The damage caused could have been averted, provided the Church leadership has a proper perception of religious freedom, hate speech, patriarchy, casteism, Indian Constitution and also Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Indian Churches-the Roman Catholics, mainline Protestants and the Independent-Charismatics, mainly in Kerala, have a unique heritage with distinct history and communities drawn from various cultural, caste and denominational backgrounds. In such a back-drop, the remark made by a Church leader, however, is intellect or naïve, not only disturbs the sentiments of Christians mainly the Dalit Christians, who form the majority within Indian Christians, but also is detrimental to the very secular fabric of this great nation, which is known for its Constitutional values.
Since NDCW stands for ‘caste free church, ecumenism and communal harmony among all faith-based communities, it does not advocate the terms “love jihad” and “narcotic jihad”, which go against a particular religion, accusing it as the main reason for all what happens in this soil and elsewhere in the world in the name of religion.
NDCW equally condemns those, who safeguard the remark of the clergy, with a justification that ‘the Bishop voiced this statement for protecting the youth of the Christian community,’ which is still worse, as it trespasses into the very liberty and freedom of youth. They have a ‘mind and choice’ to look for their life partner and lifestyle. In addition, such remarks and also the supportive voices, affirm the ‘patriarchal and casteist’ mind-set of the clergy and also the lay, who go against the Christian teaching and faith that ‘All are created in the image of God. There is ‘neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female but all are one.’ Protecting the Church and the Christian community should be based on how the clergy and the lay inherit Christian insights and follow the scriptural values and see that their preaching and practicing go together and not through other means like making derogatory remarks.
On the legal side, such remark–‘narcotic jihad’, goes against the very secular spirit of the Indian Constitution that upholds religious harmony among its citizens. The argument “Protecting our youth such remarks” goes against the very principles that were enshrined in the preamble of the Constitution–‘Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity and also the Fundamental Rights ensured to its Citizen, ‘the Freedom of Choice’. On the political aspect, such remarks may have direct or indirect ramifications to ‘fillip’ the political religiosity to marginalize and oppress the religious minorities and other vulnerable.
NDCW urges Indian Church leadership to restrain from making such scathing attacks in the name of protecting their community. Instead, it should exercise its ‘mind and heart’ to address the issue of ‘caste-based discrimination’ that exists in all its domains and also ‘protect women from all patriarchal values and designs of Church’ to prove that ‘All are one in the Church.’ Protecting youth could be taken up through ‘practicing of what they preach’ and not through such statements which are detrimental and derogatory to the very insights and values of Christ and Church!
NDCW stands with those who raised their voice against this undesirable episode and looks forward to a ‘Church and society without caste and patriarchy ‘!
Rev Dr Vincent Manoharan
NDCW, New Delhi
Phone: +91 8220593388