Religious minorities and the mainstream in a pluralist secular democracy- Part 1
- Part - I
Before I begin I must clarify why I have used the word �religious�. It
is to exclude linguistic, ethnic, rich, educated and such other categories
of minorities and simultaneously convey that pluralism means religious
pluralism in the context of this article.
Let me now present the quintessence of my thesis. My first point is that
INDIA IS A RAINBOW, WHICH WITHOUT MINORITIES WILL BE ONLY A BOW: A RAINBOW
IS A THING OF BEAUTY WHILE A BOW WOULD MAKE ONE LOOK FOR ARROWS. Secondly, I
submit that the minorities should not insulate themselves from, but rather
they should necessarily integrate themselves with the mainstream: in the
language of Christian theologians one may say that the minorities should get
themselves rid of the � mission compound concept� of the Kingdom of God.
Thirdly, the minority rights should be exercised with transparency and
accountability; wherever these special privileges become sources of
corruption and alienation they should be handled with caution, and totally
given up if necessary because it is better to enter heaven with one eye
rather than be confined to hell with both eyes intact. My next point would
be to say that while conversion is left to the conscience of the citizen it
should be ensured that it is a transparent exercise; minorities should
volunteer to accept legal monitoring of their conversions. Finally, I
believe that the advocacy and enlightenment role of minorities should
continue; it should not be confused as a communal activity; this would also
imply the responsibility of the majority community to ensure control of
their �lunatic fringe�.
At this stage I think it is necessary to properly understand certain words
and expressions. Communalism should be defined as the collapse or
malfunctioning of a religious community vis-�-vis the rest of society; being
religious should not be confused with being communal. Another word that is
thoroughly misunderstood is evangelisation. It should rightly refer only to
the speech part; acceptance or rejection is the choice of the listener.
Gospel means good news. Evangelisation means sharing the gospel. If the one
who hears does not consider the news as not so good the matter should end
there: that is what the Bible records as the advice of Jesus. Church
planting is another word that confuses a lot of people. This relatively
recent expression basically means formation of small groups of believers who
consider themselves as specially separated from the world: it is more of a
threat to mainstream churches than to non- Christians. Another common
misunderstanding of the outsider is about the words charismatic and
miracle- healing. Without at this stage going into the theological nuances I
would like to broadly state that these are words that offer a refracted view
rather than a truly reflected theological position. One more word needs to
be understood clearly before we proceed further. That is fundamentalism.
This word is often confused nowadays with extremism. Actually this word came
into use at the beginning of this century in southern California. Two
devoted Christians felt that the average person who goes around as Christian
was identifying more with the values of this world than what was fundamental
to Christian faith as set out in the Holy Bible. They therefore raised a
call �RETURN TO FUNDAMENTALS� which meant that every word in the Bible had
to be taken literally and made the basis of everyday life. This is why you
do not see a Christian fundamentalist indulging in violence. In fact this is
also the reason why I say that a Hindu who is intolerant is not repeat not a
Hindu fundamentalist because a fundamentalist Hindu cannot be intolerant!
To be continued.....
Bar 'Eato Briro Dr. D. Babu Paul
Member Id No: 075
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