Recently, a video of a Christian priest in Goa calling BJP president Amit Shah a ‘devil’ went viral on social media. In it he threatens BJP voters with nothing less than God’s punishment. That’s a bit much, wouldn’t you say?
He also accuses the BJP of burning children alive and Modi of buying the press. And then he crosses a line, which none of us despite political differences look to cross. He says god punished Manohar Parikkar with cancer because he changed the law on the holiday of Francis Xavier.
And then there’s a bunch of other stuff that he says.
But in all that, one thing that stood out as completely bizarre was his disregard for the gruesome inquisition of Goa, where he claims Hindus, Muslims, and Christians lived peacefully under the 500-year-long Portuguese reign.
Time and again, the church has meddled in political affairs without caring for the democratic process.
We’ve already seen that here in India. Over the past few years, church fathers have only been too eager to ask their flocks to vote against the NDA. So you know where their loyalties lie.
But is this kind of interference healthy for the Indian polity? Of course not. And here are three reasons why:
The Church carries a lot of weight in both money and political power in India. They own and run around 20,000 educational institutions in the country, which is second only to the Union government.
They also run more than 5,000 healthcare facilities, thousands of vocational training centres, and they own the kind of property that you’d find pretty hard to believe.
The church folks hold high positions in government, the private sector, and NGOs. Think of how much lobbying power that gives them.
Many of these highly placed church leaders like the cardinals and bishops are appointed by the Vatican. That would imply that an outside state is appointing its ambassadors in India under the guise of practising religious freedom. And what do they do? They go about influencing Indian politics.
Not to forget, churches also receive a lot of foreign funds. Political interference on the back of this foreign money is grotesquely unethical.
Finally, we don’t have to go long before learning about the disastrous consequences of church interference in a country's polity. Think of the Rwandan genocide. Though it might be a bit too much to draw a straight parallel with what’s happening in India currently, the fact is that the principle is similar. And we must be careful of that.
So should the church go on sermonising its political bias to all of its devout followers? Not when it sits pretty on top of so much power, operating silently among us.
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