Human rights activists: Christ, caste cannot co-exist

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By DCD Reporter

Christ and caste cannot go together, say human rights activists.

In the backdrop of the celebration of Dalit Liberation Sunday, November 14, Rev Dr Vincent Manoharan, chairperson of the National Dalit Christian Watch (NDCW) said discrimination, oppression and injustice against Dalits must end in India.

“Church is called to share the Word of God for upholding Christian insights-love, equality, justice and peace. So, among Christians, there shall be no room for division, oppression and discrimination based on caste,” he told DCD.

According to Manoharan, Jesus of Nazareth was for Samaritans and Gentiles. So, the church should not perpetuate caste practices among Christians particularly.  

Presentation Sister Anastasia Gill, a former member of the minority commission of the Delhi government, also echoed the view of Manoharan.

“Christ and caste cannot go together. Christ has brought liberation to the entire human race irrespective of caste, creed and gender. He crossed all social boundaries to bring peace and reconciliation, said Sister Gill, co-chairperson of NDCW.

About 70 percent of India’s population comes from Dalit backgrounds.

According to her, Dalits are to be part of decision-making processes and share the same space in policies and programmes of the church without discrimination and subjugation.

Dalit reality calls for affirmative action to be addressed to bring more participation in Church.

“Many do not want to address this issue in the Church. Those who do are seen as rebels of our Mother Church,” she said.

Meanwhile, Pradip Bansrior, executive secretary, Dalit and Tribal/ Adivasi Concerns National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) said, “Dalit Liberation Sunday has become an important feature in the calendar of Indian Churches and Ecumenical movements.”

Dalit Liberation Sunday is observed on November 14 all over India by the member churches/ institutions of the NCCI and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.

The theme for this year’s Dalit Liberation Sunday is God says, “No to caste discrimination” (Acts 10:28).

“Over the years, there has been a positive response in sensitizing the local congregations towards concerns of Dalits, for no longer caste issue is visualized as a sociological issue or an issue outside the purview of the church but more seen as an issue challenging the core of our faith and gospel,” said Bansrior.

The aim of Dalit Liberation Sunday is to sensitize Christians and others “to overcome all forms of discriminatory practices of caste across India and initiate uncompromising actions to eradicate such practices in society and thus also within the Christian community,” he said.

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