Indian churches commit to -zero tolerance - for the -sin - of casteism
- Dear moderators,
This is a news tag on the ecumenical meeting on Justice for Dalits held in Delhi from October 22-24. The news can be seen in
Indian churches commit to "zero tolerance" for the "sin" of casteism
*Naming casteism as "sin, apostasy and rebellion against God", churches in India have committed themselves to serve as "zero tolerance zones" for caste-based discrimination. They also called for Lent 2011 to be "a time of purging caste" from Christian communities. *
Representatives of 31 churches grouped in the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) made those commitments at an ecumenical conference held in New Delhi on 22-24 October. The event was convened by the NCCI and the World Council of Churches (WCC).
"The moment of truth has come", said the NCCI president Bishop Dr Taranath Sagar, speaking at the opening of the conference. He called on churches to get involved, in all sincerity and faithfulness, with the liberation of Dalits as part of the mission of God.
Despite the fact that the caste system was abolished under India’s
constitution in 1950, "untouchability" is still practiced, particularly in rural areas. Caste-based discrimination affects at least 160 million people in India. One of the jobs assigned to the caste of Dalits in India is the manual removal of human feces from dry latrines. About 80 percent of manual scavengers are women.
In an affirmation of faith issued at the 22-24 October gathering, Indian churches representatives defined caste discrimination as "a crime against human beings" and "a grievance against the Holy Spirit".
According to the confession-like statement, "Dalit children are shunned, stunted and have their childhood shattered. Dalit women are beaten, raped, and murdered. Dalit men are dispossessed, locked up, and lynched".
"We are ashamed that we as Christians have remained silent while our
brothers and sisters have been violated and killed", the church representatives continued. However, they wrote, "Dalits resilience and
resistance" is an invitation to the church "to join in solidarity to
denounce and resist the 'spiritual forces of evil'."
"This conference is remarkable as it has for the first time enabled the Indian churches to name caste as an evil system and caste discrimination as a sin and a crime", said the Rev. Dr Deenabandhu Manchala, WCC programme executive for Justice and Inclusive Communities. "Equally important", he added, "it has moved from building on Dalit suffering to Dalit resistance and determination to dismantle an oppressive social order."
Participants at the gathering expressed their expectation that the Christian liturgical season of Lent 2011 may become an "occasion for developing resources, both theological and liturgical, for use in Sunday Schools, youth groups, women's and men's fellowships and pastors' and bishops' retreats with the specific mandate to root out casteism in our mindset and caste discrimination in our way of life."
*Speaking at the conference, Bishop Geevarghese Mor Coorilos, moderator of the WCC's Commission on World Mission and Evangelism, called for the "Dalitization of the Indian churches". "Churches have to be inclusive, and any discrimination in any form will not make it the body of Christ", Coorilos said. *
*This is a very important development. I am happy that Coorilos thirumeni has called for the Dalitization of the Indian churches. The participants of the meeting have agreed to developing special resources for this during the 2011 lent season. Our church needs to look at sharing information, conscientizing and discussing with our church members about various issues that are concerns for the Christian world today. While we are ready to criticize other religions, we are never willing to look inside and at ourselves. I would be happy if these problems are also localised and discussed in our congregations. That will give more strength and avenues for the Dalitization of Indian churches. These disscussions and information
sharing sessions should be open to both women and men in the church as then we will benefit from more balanced and multi dimensional views about various issues. Many of the issues coming out in this forum should lead to actual action in the real world as well. Otherwise these will remain stuck in the virtual world. *
Warm regards, Jerry achen.
(Fr. Jerry Kurian)
I.D. no. 4500
- This is a commendable human rights initiative by Indian churches. Thank you very much Jerry Achen for sharing.
--- In SOCM-FORUM@yahoogroups.com, Rev. Fr. Jerry Kurian wrote:
> Dear moderators,
> This is a news tag on the ecumenical meeting on Justice for Dalits held in Delhi from October 22-24. The news can be seen in