It is unfortunate that the Church in Delhi has not just flaunted its political bias but also appealed to its foot soldiers in the clergy to promote it. The Archbishop of Delhi has written to all parish priests in his jurisdiction to launch a prayer campaign and fast ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election since the country’s secular fabric was under “threat”.
Spokespersons of the Church have been vehemently denying political motives and saying that the letter does not mention any political party by name, either by way of rejection or endorsement. But their clarifications are weak and the prejudice cannot be hidden behind semantics. The Delhi Archbishop speaks of an atmosphere prevalent in the country that poses a threat to secularism, so he must specify where from and how that threat comes. It is evident that his target is the Bharatiya Janata Party regime led by Narendra Modi. In the early months of this Government, there had been a spate of attacks on church properties in some parts of the country and a cry had resonated that the Christian community was being targeted by the majority community members out of communal spite. It so turned out that most of these attacks had been perpetrated by anti-social elements unconnected with communal motives.
The Archbishop must answer as to where the Church’s conscience was when thousands of Sikhs were massacred on the streets of Delhi in 1984 — did it issue a similar appeal? How many senior office-bearers of the Church rose in protest when democracy was stifled through the imposition of Emergency? More recently, did the Church call for peace and prayers when large-scale violence broke out in West Bengal during the panchayat election? And, why has the Church in India been silent when dozens of right-wing activists were brutally murdered in Kerala by Marxists and their supporters?
The fact is that the Church protests only when it suits its hidden political agenda. If members of the Church want to play political games, they must come out in the open and contest elections. In any case, it is laughable that the Church in India, which has had a sordid past of converting people through inducements and even force —and which has been documented — should be talking of secularism. It would be advisable for the Church to stop playing games and concentrate on its core job, and leave politics to others.