Religious leaders of a Christian denomination have demanded that DMK representatives remove specific rules, crack down on Hindu outfits and allow them to build churches as they wish. Christian priests have repeatedly been saying that the DMK government was installed with the help of the Christian community and even the CM has accepted it as a fact.
In the conference held by the Church of Episcopal Fellowship International, Christian priests have made a few demands, including a crackdown on outfits that oppose pastors and churches. Bishops and pastors from Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli, Ramanathapuram, Tenkasi and Thoothukudi attended the event. DMK ministers Masthan and Mano Thangaraj, along with Kanyakumari Mayor Mahesh were also present in the conference.
In their presence, some resolutions were passed and demands were made to the ruling party. The congregation demanded that the rule 4(3) of the Panchayat Building Rules, 1997 which is now used to deny permission to build churches and gather people in those churches should be removed. The rule says, “No site shall be used for the construction of a building intended for public worship or religious purposes without the prior approval of the Collector of the district who may refuse such approval, if in his opinion, the use purpose of the site and building is likely to endanger public peace and order”.
This specific rule has been the refuge of Hindu outfits like Hindu Munnani who stop construction of new churches in places where Christians don’t even live. This is called church planting through which people of the area are gradually converted. Another demand was that organisations that “attack pastors and churches should be suppressed”. Recently residents of a village in Vellore stood up to missionaries who went house by house to preach and proselytise. With the help of some Hindu outfits they sent them away after applying Vibhuti (sacred ash) and Kumkum on their foreheads.
Such incidents are commonplace now where missionaries disturb the peace of villages where no Christian lives through preaching and church planting. CEFI Diocese calls such incidents “attacks on pastors”. Commoners and Hindu outfits have been fighting against the menace of house churches for a long time with the help of rule 4(3) of the Panchayat Building Rules. This is what the diocese calls the “attack on churches”.
In fact the diocese’s other demand was that they should be allowed to build churches on properties owned by them. The resolution said that it was part of DMK’s election promises in its manifesto and sought to implement it soon. It also sought the DMK government to ensure that the religious freedom provided under Article 25 is enforced fully.
Getting land for cemeteries has been a headache for independent churches of different denominations. Followers of these churches are not permitted to be buried in Catholic or Protestant churches, which are very strict about subscription and tithe. It has created a lot of problems for Christians from different denominations and sometimes even within the same church. This was also addressed at the CEFI diocese conference. It demanded that a 3-acre plot should be provided in every Taluk to be used as a cemetery.
Church of Episcopal Fellowship International’s website says that CEFI is a diocese of churches that are not accepted as a church by the government of India rather just a trust”. It has a Political and Minority Board whose only task is to meet and pressurise political leaders, government representatives, and officials to act favourably.
While churches which are totally away from the purview of the government make such outrageous demands and get them done, Hindus have been begging the government to let them administer their temples. With the state neglecting its responsibility to either protect Hindu dharma or curb abrahamic conversion, it falls upon Hindu outfits to find a way to do it. The Panchayat Building rule was helpful to them in controlling church planting in the past with a somewhat favourable ADMK in power. But with blatantly anti-Hindu and pro-Christian DMK back in power, even that slim chance is at the peril of being snatched away.
The Hindu community’s tolerance of differences of opinion and faith is being exploited by Abrahamic faiths, which openly declare their hatred for idol worship. In Christian missionaries’ case, even prominent ones like CSI Bishop Ezra Sargunam and Pentecostal preacher Mohan C Lazarus have openly denigrated Hindu deities and insulted Hindu beliefs. In fact, Ezra Sargunam incited violence against Hindus saying, “‘Punch Hindus in the face and tell them there is no Hindu religion’”. He is a very close friend of late CM M.Karunanidhi and continues to enjoy his son MK.Stalin’s friendship as well. In a church mass, he called Bhagwan Ram as someone who was not born and an imagination. He also called Deepavali “a festival of darkness”
Lazarus called temples in TN forts of Satan and said that Bharat is poor because of “idol worship”. How is it possible to live peacefully with such people who harbor inherent hate for Hindus? It is better to bring legislation similar to the one introduced by Russia in 2016. It made amendments to the old ‘Extremism Law’, named it the ‘Yarovaya Law’ and introduced rules limiting proselytising and restricting “religious assembly from occurring anywhere but in officially recognised religious buildings”. It restricts fanatic Christians from even gathering in a house and conducting prayer which is how the economically viable and away from glare house churches operate.
The Russian Supreme Court had banned Jehova’s Witnesses, a fanatic Christian cult that goes around shouting “Jesus is the only God” and abuse followers of other religions and Christian denominations. Jehovah’s Witnesses and other similar evangelistic cults behave the same way in Bharat as well. Now that they are in significant numbers in certain parts of the country after rigorous evangelism, they are pressuring government representatives to allow more such activities. For people of all faiths to live in harmony and peace in Bharat, a law like the ‘Yarovaya Law’ is the need of the hour.