Church leaders demand “strong political will” to end discrimination

New Delhi: Leaders of mainline Christian Churches in India on Thursday called for strong political will and administrative action to check increasing attacks on religious minorities in the country.

“We the Christians who are a small religious community need assurance from the government that we are protected and secure and safe in our motherland,” the leaders from Catholic and Protestant Churches told a press conference in New Delhi.

They also expressed grief over the killing of 141 people, including 132 school children in Pakistan’ Peshawar town a day earlier. Such brutality, they said, indicates the dangers of fanaticism and extremism acting in the name of faith.

“We extend to the people of Pakistan and specially its children our heartfelt condolences. We remain in solidarity with them as we pray for the souls of the dead students.

Excerpts from the press statement:

This Christmas season, therefore, we come to you with a heavy heart and great concern of the sense of apprehension and fear in our community at the incidents of violence against our Churches and personnel in various parts of the country, and specially in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and now in the National Capital Territory of Delhi where the St. Sebastian’s Church in Dilshad Garden, East Delhi was torched in what we think is an act of malicious arson on 1st December 2014.

The gutting of the St. Sebastian’s Church, as well as the other incidents of targeted violence in other parts of the country, speak of extreme police and administrative impunity and disregard not only to the sentiments and religious feelings of our community but also the guarantees of the Constitution of India.

These acts of violence do not stand alone, nor are they isolated incidents. They are quite part of a series of interconnected actions by various non-State actors closely associated with the ruling dispensation. The official celebrations of a good governance day on Christmas day as detailed in government circulars sent to educational institutions throughout the country to organize compulsory events on a day that is holy to us, Members of the Union Council of Ministers have called for national laws against conversion, and a Common Civil Code, politically targeting the Christian and Muslim communities without saying it in so many words.

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