Supporting minorities: Post-election consultation on citizenship in Tamil Nadu
Indians exercised their right to vote last April and May during the General Election. This election had the highest turnout in India's history with over 67% participation and with the highest female participation.
The leading contenders were the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a centred religious party consisting of the Majority Hindus, the Indian National Congress (INC) and other parties mainly secular in nature. Finally, the BJP won the majority of the seats with 303 of 542 seats.
Some Independent Churches and Pastors came out openly against the BJP government. After winning the election, the scenario has changed after a full five-year term. Will this new paradigm have consequences for these small group of Independent Churches and Pastors, who are afraid for their own identity and service?
In the middle of uncertainty, Globethics.net India organised a meeting on citizenship education, information and exchange to invite Church Leaders to talk about the election results, its implications and their duties as Church leaders towards their communities.
A small group of 15 Independent Church Leaders were brought together for a consultation on 12 June 2019 at Coimbatore, in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu. The meeting was addressed by the Bishop Sadhu Daniel, a Bishop of the Independent Churches. He stressed and made a call for a good understanding with the Government and cooperation with the state.
Rev. Belly, Co-director of Globethics.net India, presented a comprehensive analysis of the present election, and warned the members of the dangers emerging from religious fundamentalism of any religion and encouraged the participants to uphold the secular fabric of the Indian polity.
The best way is to follow the law of the land, which is enshrined in India's secular constitution, highlighted Belly.
He also emphasised that instead of talking about religion, leaders should focus their talks on human liberation and human development.
Another mention to the Indian Constitution made by Belly was to ratify that the constitution assured the right to express the faith of one's belief although it should not infringe upon the idea of other people hurting others and creating ill feelings and hatred among people.
At the end of the meeting, the Pastors agreed that they do not follow many of the government rules and regulations and that they felt ignorant regarding some of the current governing laws. For this reason and to ensure they deliver a quality service to their communities, there will be a follow up meeting to deepen the conversation. It is foreseen that the next gathering will be on 17 July 2019.