Delhi Archbishop draws BJP, RSS ire over call for ‘prayer campaign’ ahead of 2019 elections

‘Religious propaganda’: Delhi Archbishop draws BJP, RSS ire over call for ‘prayer campaign’ ahead of 2019 elections

New Delhi, (FE): Archbishop of Delhi Anil Couto’s letter to priests urging them to launch a year-long prayer campaign and observe fast on every Friday ahead of the 2019 general elections has sparked a huge political row with the Bharatiya Janata Party terming it as religious propaganda. Anil’s letter dated May 8 referred to ‘turbulent political atmosphere’ in the country that is threatening the democratic values and secularism. He said that efforts should be made to change the government when the country votes next year to elect a new government.

“It is our hallowed practice to pray for our country and its political leaders all the time but all the more so when we approach the general elections,” the letter reads. “As we look forward towards 2019 when we will have new government let us begin a prayer campaign for our country.”

This is not the first time such a letter has been issued by a priest. Ahead of assembly polls in Gujarat and NE states, a similar directive was issued asking people to vote against the BJP.

Meanwhile, the BJP has termed it as a religious propaganda and reiterated that the government is committed to overall development. Party spokesperson Sambit Patra said that the government is not biased and that his party as well as the government respect Christianity. “Sabka sath, sabka vikas, is the tagline of the government. It is an individual’s propaganda. It started right after the BJP’s win 2014,” he said. Patra also reminded that it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts on ground zero that led to the priest kidnapped in Yemen being freed as well as the resuce of 46 nurses from the clutches of the ISIS.

RSS ideologue Rakesh Sinha has termed the move an attack on the country’s secularism and democracy. “This is a direct attack by the Church on Indian secularism and democracy, and this is a direct intervention by the Vatican as these Bishops are appointed by the Pope. Their accountability is not to India but to Pope,” Sinha told news agency ANI.

Sinha argued that one reason behind this could be the strict laws laid down by the government to check the misuse of money by church oriented NGOs. He said that after 2014, the government put the NGOs funding under scrutiny and strict rules were imposed check misuse. “The Church organisations used to take this money for a variety of cause but in reality, utilise this only for religious conversions. They want a government to be made so that their conversion business flourishes,” he said.

7 Comments

  1. RSS ideologue Rakesh Sinha must be a real idiot to think that the Bishops, Priests and Sisters are using money for conversions. If at all the poor in India have been taken care of all these years, it is thanks to the Christian charitable societies that have labored in remote villages for no profit other than providing a better life to people.
    On second thought, most the right-wing saffron parties ARE filled with people who lack any real knowledge of India or its people. So probably Sinha can be excused for his ignorance!

    • money is used for conversion ..and still using it …but now after 2014 it become difficult.you know it ,also others ..
      just as likes of of right wing exposed it and oppose it…you and bishops upset on them also the same reason..
      and charitable…biggest charity comes from hindu temple shabarimala and tirupati from hindu devotee donation..it all goes to govt. and govt. give it back to public in various form..no name or relegion asked or conversion taken pplace in that charity …

  2. Christian population is less than 2% in India so, electorally speaking, it does not matter what this clueless bishop is trying to influence. If everything worked through prayers, there was no need for any of us to get out of the bed in the morning.

    On the other hand, by writing this letter he has only scuppered Congress chances in the next year’s elections. When you upset the silent majority Hindus, you see the kind of results like what we saw in the coastal region in the recent assembly elections.

    My family is catholic and I strongly condemn and oppose church interference in political affairs. We have seen enough of this in the last few centuries in Europe. Do not think people do not read books other than the “word of god”.

    Lastly, by sending such mails, they only increase animosity in the society among people of different faith. Nobody will dare to physically attack these bishops for writing such letters, instead due to frustration, the goons will settle score against ordinary innocent minorities and it goes out of control. The church attacks few years ago was the symptom of that. So this nosy bishop has needlessly put the whole christian community in the pickle. I just wonder what he eats for breakfast.

    Speaking of “conversions” people are talking about, I don’t think it’s happening in big cities or the coastal region in India today. No doubt it was happening centuries ago during Goan inquisition in the most ruthless manner. Today the “mainstream” Christians such as catholics, protestants etc. are not involved in such activities in the coastal region but the same can not be said about the splinter groups like Bethel church, New Life, Jehovah’s Witness etc. And mind you, they don’t use foreign funds, instead use the “damsel in distress” technique and then emotionally blackmail them later on to loot. They know how to spot their prey. Even we were targeted many times in the past. These people have broken many families even within the catholic communities in our region.

    It is also possible the conversion by missionaries is happening in the tribal regions like Orissa. I strongly oppose it. If you want to help, please help but don’t do it for the dubious reasons. If “god” can only give you salvation solely based on the headcount of your religion, this earth would have been a heaven long time ago. So please drop the pretence.

  3. I agree with Henry on many points but “praying for good leaders” is very important. The Archbishop is not asking to vote for Christians or members of any particular group. Not all Hindus belong to right-wing groups. Not even a majority of them. If you look at the current situation in India, democratic values are being sidelined by the BJP government. Christians are not an island within the political life of the nation. They are citizens first. And they have a duty to uphold the Constitution.
    So as a leader of the community the Archbishop has a right to call for prayers. The letter rightly highlights the violence inflicted by right-wing groups on minorities during the past few years. Can the Church remain blind to that reality? Can people be killed for “eating beef” or do we have courts to decide punishments for crimes? And how are tribals and lower caste people treated even in the 21st century? Is that acceptable? Doesn’t the Church have a prophetic role?
    Prayers are not magic. As creatures endowed with reason we are called to do our part. But we need God’s grace. And prayers prepare us for that. Attacks on the churches are a means to portray the 2% as a threat to the 80% with false allegations like conversions, etc. If conversions were really taking place, the number of Christians should have increased from 2% to at least 5% over the past decades. That has not happened!
    The Archbishop is not trying to influence anybody. He is just highlighting the present socio-political scene in India. He has a responsibility to do so. The letter does not bind anyone to anything. No one’s political freedom is being curtailed. If one wants to disagree with the contents of the letter that is perfectly valid. But the Archbishop has a right and duty to issue the letter.

  4. I have stopped paying attention to what these religious leaders have to say for a long time now. It’s the duplicity and hypocrisy from these leaders which has made me change my view over the years. This same church exploited the ordinary people in the West for centuries and when the age of enlightenment 4 centuries ago called out their bluff, they lost control of the masses. So now they are aiming for developing-countries in Asia.

    Over the course of centuries every religion and its leaders have had their fair share of deplorable secrets which are conveniently buried from the ordinary faithful even today. And I can only speak for my ancestors’ religion. Obviously there were many atrocities carried out by the church through the middle ages such as inquisition, forceful conversion etc. but it was so long ago that it would not be prudent to draw a moral conclusion today. It’s unfair because times have changed, ideologies have changed and the morality of the society has changed. So I am not interested in digging up all those old skeletons instead would like to write what has happened in the church in the last 60 years. If today’s church portrays its sacrosanct image to the outside world then they have to explain why they tried to deny all these gross inhuman injustices worldwide in the form of paedophilia in the last few decades? Why did they try to suppress those incidents through their political clout? It’s human nature to sin so catholic priests are not infallible but my point is why were those cases (even when reported) conveniently suppressed? One of the prominent Popes of our recent times late John Paul the Second was fully aware of these scandals of paedophilia taking place inside the church but he chose to look the other way. And now he is being considered for sainthood. Isn’t this a farce? You may have read about this Australian cardinal who was recently convicted for such crimes (of overlooking).

    If these so-called great leaders behave in this manner, what message does it send to the ordinary people? Why should people take the letters sent by the arch bishops seriously? Why can’t they first set their house in order before talking about secularism? We have heard many cases of exploitation by the catholic priests even in India where, only due to people’s activism, these atrocities have come to light, else even those would have been brushed under the carpet. First of all let these priests get married and allow them to have their own family. All the acts of perversion can be avoided and it can stop the entire community from being blamed and shamed for the acts of a few. We all are made of flesh and blood so priests also have the bodily desires and instincts. What is natural to the body is being denied through these silly priesthoods, as a result it enters into the mind and eventually leads into acts of perversion.

    Let this arch bishop Couto focus on these issues first before lecturing people on the value of secularism, democracy, constitution in India. No doubt, the letter written by this bishop is not legally binding on anyone but he has influence over the whole of this clueless Christian sheeple who can not differentiate between the elbow from their arses when it comes to thinking independently. This systematic religious indoctrination (filled with lies and more lies) right from the formative years of a childhood has erected a thick concrete barrier in their thinking. They can’t even attempt to differentiate between a right and a wrong without referring to what someone said centuries ago (while making no attempt to apply the context) and these same religious heads encourage such things in their Sunday sermons.

    When I was 6-7 years old, I was forced to attend these Sunday schools, First Communion classes etc. where nothing but soft indoctrination was taking place. The mind of a child between the age of 1-9 works like a sponge, absorbing everything that he/she listens and that pretty much shapes the personality for the rest of their life. During that age we were taught that only ours is true god, all other gods are false and people of other religion are faithless and they worship false idols… Attempt was made to sow the seeds of animosity and hatred against people of other religion. I was heavily reprimanded by the headmistress (a nun) when i was in highschool just because I had attended a Hindu festival (jathra) with my Hindu classmates. She even threatened me that she would boycott me from my religion if I did similar thing in the future (in what authority she had told me that is still a puzzle to me today, after 25 years). These things are simply unforgivable. I grew up among Hindus and most of my years were spent in Hindu homes – I have visited Dharmasthala, Krishna Mata, LVT temple, I have eaten food in those places, I have even rung the bell(ganTe) during pooja in shivalli brahmins’ house. I was literally staying in their house everyday. Those people treat you something like a royalty (“bale parbule, kulle parbule, soukyana? unas malpuvare…”?) Nothing but pure love I got from them but what was happening inside the church was feeding lies after lies about people of other religions. Why was this allowed to happen? And how can they get away with it now?

    Secondly, how can one claim their religion as superior at the cost of slagging off another faith/religion? If you dig deeper you can easily expose the farce of Christianity as well. The only noteworthy tenets of Christianity is love and forgiveness which is what Jesus taught mankind. You do not need to be a Christian to embrace these values. Even a Hindu and a Mohammadan can accept those. But what has happened was that Christianity was started by a pagan emperor a few centuries after Jesus’s death because he wanted to hold onto power but the almighty Roman emperor was collapsing. Since people won’t buy a new religion just based on love and forgiveness, they had to invent all these lies like walking on water, converting water into wine, resurrection, ascension into sky etc. Do you really need to sell these silly magic tricks to describe the greatness of your religion? Just think about it. This was all part of the marketing machinery by the church to “sell” the religion to the masses because people are gullible. Those who refused to buy it were tortured and burnt at the stakes.

    And the church today, based on all these farcical theological contortions are trying to stand on a moral pedestal to lecture people on what is right and wrong. Tell me, how many Catholics today know the origins of their religion other than what’s being indoctrinated from the pulpit?

    Have a nice weekend.

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