TODAY -

Understanding the profundity of secularism

L Luingam *



CHRISTIANITY:

What we know today as Christianity or Christian religion began with Christ in the days and within the bounds of Roman empires, the world has ever known in all its history. Christianity is one of the religions in the world which rests on the person of its founder. Lecky truly remarksĖChristianity is not a system of morals and ethics. It is a worship of a person. So, Christianity is nothing less and can be nothing more than relationship to Jesus Christ. Christianity is Christ.

VIOLENCE AGAINST CHRISTIANS

Since its beginning Christianity has been subjected to attacks. Fifty million Christians died of persecution by Roman Empire during 1200 years of what Christians call the DARK AGES. Despite all these persecutions, Christianity spread all over the Roman Empire, Europe, Asia, Africa, England, Wales and about everywhere else where there is any civilization. Violence and persecution against Christians never ends till today.

How true it is that religious conflict and persecution is the deepest and the longest human hatred and India is no exception. Among the top 10 worst persecution and violence against Christians in the world today, North Korea ranks 1 and India ranks 10. India is witnessing a surge in attack and violence against Christians and Muslims in the present years. The recent incidents against Christians in Assam raise serious question in the mind of Christians.

Everyone irrespective of caste and religion ought to condemn the threat posed by certain outfit to Christianity and its missionary activities. Violence against Christians in India is, of course, nothing new. We Christians being only 2.3% of the Nationís population, we do not have any other choice than to bear the brunt of all ill treatments and succumb to the suppression and domination of the majority.

However, the sufferings which we endure today drew Christians nearer to one another and to our redeemer, Jesus Christ. The present suffering and attacks cannot prevent us from continuing our spiritual journey and spiritual warfare.

We are ready to undergo any kind of suffering for Christís sake even to the point of persecution and death like Polycarp and Ignatius who had sacrificed their life in the hand of Emperor Trajan because for Christians death is the gateway to the glorious eternal life.

VIOLENCE IN THE NAME OF RELIGION

According to police reports 25 Muslim Mosques were attacked in India. Thus, the religious minorities in India are at their receiving end. According to a report by human right groups more than 300 attacks on Christians took place in the 1st months of 2021 including 32 in Karnataka.

The report found that of the total of 305 incidents of anti-Christian violence, four North India States registered as many as 169 of them, 66 in BJP Ė ruled Uttar Pradesh, 47 in Congress ruled Chattisgarh, 36 in tribal dominated Jharkhand and 30 in BJP- ruled Madhya Pradesh and on the other hand in Andhra Pradesh at least 205 incident of attacks on Hindu temples took place in 2019 alone.

Many idols were vandalised and Templeís properties stolen. TDP leader and former Union Minister P Ashok Gayapathi said that idol of lord Rama was vandalised and goddess Sitaís idols desecrated in Andhra Pradesh.

It is vividly seen that all these attacks were not carried out by political party or parties of India but by some individuals and religious fanatic groups for their personal interest and belief. But the media showed only a part of the truths which led to a feeling in foreign countries that only Christians are unsafe in India.

Thus, frequent oppression and attack on religious minorities in India will engender a feeling of fear and hatred which may create unethical atmosphere of manoeuvring situations and sap the moral foundation of India.

Modern thinkers are of the opinion that healthy growth of society demands the observance of certain fundamental moral principle and therefore anything that pollutes the mind and goes against moral health of the society deserves total condemnation. Thus, making efforts to spread religious enmity is a treat to liberal society.

SECULARISM

We all know that India is not a theocratic State but a secular State. In this age of science as stated by NK Kundu, secularism has to be based on science of religion from which social political and ethical values system should spontaneously flow in every sphere of life leading to peaceful and harmonious co-existence for mutual benefit. Religious neutrality is the very basis of a secular State.

\Secularism implies profound respect for all religions. No one has the right to coerce another in the matter of religious conviction. It is essentially a manís private affairs. It is a matter wholly and solely between a man and his creator. Let us recall an Ashokan inscription which reads- Honour another religion, for in doing so strengthens both oneís own and another. All people obviously want respect for his religion.

He thinks that his way of worship is the best one. A man may call himself a committed Christian or Hindu or Muslim and he may even strictly follow the rituals of his religion but this will never save him from sins. He may proudly carry out his religious label but he is still prey for his passions. He has little time to think and search for truth. He may be talking a lot of peace and harmony but his behaviour proves otherwise.

Religion does not consist in act of outward practices and ceremonies but true religion is the purification of inner-mind and love is the essence of every religion because love is stronger than hatred. To treat an enemy with love rather than vengeance is the way to move him. Vengeance may break his body but love will break his heart because love is originated from the heart of almighty God.

THE WRATH OF GOD

The Bible says that king Uzziah reigned for 52 years in Judah. He was overall a good king who did much for his land. But in later years pride crept in his mind and disobeyed God by trying to perform the priestís duties in direct disobedience to God.

Godís wrath felt on him and so he was smitten with leprosy rather than any other diseases because leprosy was at that time considered a token of special divine judgement. Uzziah lost his throne and had to live in a separate house banished from the temple. It clearly shows that religion is spirituality and so it should always be kept aloof from politics and vice versa. Religion should be confined to the walls of Churches, Temples and Mosques. It should not trespass into the arena of politics. People should not accept any infringement by religion in the region of secular affairs.

Furthermore, king Jothamís failure was that though he always did what was right in the eyes of God, he could not as a king, prevent others from doing wrong. So, God punished him severely. It is true that Godís wrath is always directed against the godlessness and wickedness of those people who deliberately suppress the truth for the sake of evil. We all know that God is a jealous God. Nobody can stand before His indignation.

Therefore, National survival depends not on political manoeuvres but obeying God. See how a Nation is led to ruins and her people to exile because of the evil and wicked ways of their kings. Therefore, power, position, riches, wisdom all these tools are to be used prudently but when it is used with wrong motives and ungodly ways, these very useful tools may turn to be deadly snares and may even destroy a Nation.

MODIíS VIEW ON SECULARISM

Christians in India are becoming sceptical of the present NDA Government at the Centre that it is anti-religious minority. In contrary, I would like to quote what Shri Modi saidĖMy Government ensures that there is complete freedom of faith and that everyone has undeniable right to retain or adapt religion at his her own choice without coercion or undue influence. He also said the Constitution of India is the sacred book for every citizen of India.

It reflects his commitment to tolerance on religion in its true spirit and propagates secularism as enshrined in India constitution. Over and above, Shri Modiís sterling good sense led him to implement the PRASAD schemes for Muslims and Christians. Many places of deep religious significance to Indian Muslims have benefited from this scheme.

The Prasad scheme has also improved the infrastructure and facilities of many important religious pilgrimage sites for Indian Christians- such as, Velankanni, St Thomas International shrine and Churches in Goa etc.

His Government continues to engage with the Christian community on cultural and developmental issues. The Prime Minister and his Government has worked hard to preserve the cultural ties of Christianity with the rest of the world.


* L Luingam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is from Ramva, Ukhrul District, Manipur.
This article was webcasted on March 02 2024.



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