Cynical abuse of Christian faith and belief: ABAM comments
Mokokchung, February 18 (MTNews): Reacting to the BJP’s election campaign where Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs, John Barla in a campaign in Alongtaki assembly constituency said, ‘Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!’ followed by ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, the Ao Baptist Arogo Mungdang (ABAM) has termed the campaign a “cynical abuse of Christian faith and belief’ by the party-political campaigners.”
According to ABAM, the abuse of Christian faith in recent weeks in Nagaland is a “deploring and deliberate attempt to sabotage the identity of Christian community in Nagaland.”
“Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!’ is a Christian sacred expression meant for their reaffirmation and commitment with awe and reverence but to syncretize it with “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” is purely communal as it forces certain mythological idea of motherland Bharat being Devi, a Hindu deity,” ABAM explained.
ABAM further asked every right-thinking citizen to refrain from conforming to political inducement as it has the potential to mislead any religious faith community.
(Read full ABAM statement here)
‘Hallelujah, Praise the Lord’ not to be equated with ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’: NBCC
Calling it ‘bad politics and religious bigotry’, the Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC) called out the BJP for hurting the sentiments of the Christians during their political campaign and called it a “blasphemy.”
“The Hallelujah and Praise the Lord are worship words. These worship-spiritual words are not to be equated with Bharat mata ji. Election campaign is not a worship service,” the Church Council said in a press release reminding that it is an “election campaign and not a spiritual-religious campaign.”
The Church Council further slammed the political party by stating that they were not given a religious platform but a political platform. Therefore, a line should be drawn and the platform should not be used to hurt the sentiments of the Christians “in this part of the country you are touring,” the council added.
According to the NBCC, using ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Praise the Lord’ in the political platform is nothing but “an insult and a ploy” to divide the Christian majority society.
“If it has come out from your heart it should make you bold enough to stand for the sufferings of the minorities in the country,” the Church council said, adding, “your silence and bad politics has caused the Christians and the church to suffer from harassment, abuse and persecution at the hands of the majority.”
The Council further added that the repeated shouts of Hallelujah and Praise the Lord in a political campaign is a blasphemy and amounts to religious bigotry.
The Council also highlighted how the hurt caused by the blatant use of Christian liturgical phrase calls for a deeper homework and asked them to find out under which political party and the regime the secular India is going through social upheaval.
“You cannot use your political platform to divide the people in this distant land,” the Church Council added.
The Church Council also blamed the local politicians for not orienting their star campaigners with the religious-faith ethos of the local people.
“Anyone can come to campaign for you but there should be some civic sense of respect for others. You cannot play with the sentiments of others for your political mileage,” the Church Council stated.
Meanwhile, the Dimapur Area Ao Baptist Pastors Fellowship (DAABPF) called the shouting of Slogans ‘Hallelujah! Praise the Lord’ during the election “utterly disgusting” and said that they see it as “abomination” when used with the wrong motive.
They further called upon the BJP candidates and workers to refrain from their “imprudent attempts to fool the general public by using religious songs and phrases.”
(Read full NCBB statement here)
Speaking to the media in Dimapur today, BJP State media cell convener Sapralu Nyekha clarified that John Barla, the party’s campaigner and MoS under the Ministry of Minority Affairs, was a Christian and was a pastor before becoming a union Minister.
Nyekha stated that it is his (Barla’s) prerogative to carry forth his faith in the Lord and thus, “When he feels in his heart to call on the name of God and worship him wherever he is and whatever political events or any other events, he is free to do so as a good Christian,” and said, she would have done the same because everything comes from God.
“When he shouted Praise the Lord and Hallelujah, he has not committed any offense, he has not done it to gain any political mileage but he has done it because it has come from his heart,” she clarified.
She went on to say that BJP Nagaland members are just as much Christians as members of other political parties, and urged the Dimapur Ao Baptist Church Pastor Fellowship not to misunderstand.
Meanwhile, BJP National Spokesperson Nalin Kohli clarified that no votes were asked in God’s name, but “can anyone say that we should not remember God?” He went on to say that it is a good thing that the Nagas invoke God’s presence in all events.
He claimed that “misguided political figures” must have spread the confusion by taking things out of context.