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Casteism in Christianity : While more than 70% of the Catholic converts in Tamil Nadu are Dalits, only 4 of the 18 Bishops are Dalit Christians

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Christian evangelists are always on the lookout for vulnerable people, mainly from among the majority Hindus, in order to convert them. More often than not these are people belonging to the lower strata of the society who are promised a ‘caste free’ equal status if they become Christians. Although the irony is that these evangelists look for upper caste converts to display as trophies.

The fact, however, remains that casteism runs deep in Christianity. This issue was raised in no less than the apex court of the country itself as early as 2007. While ruling on a case relating to Dalit Christians demanding Scheduled Caste (SC) status, a bench headed by then Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan wanted to know if Christians would admit that they too practiced caste system and that Dalits among them were facing social discrimination.

Lawyers for the All-India United Christian Movement for Equal Rights and representative of Dalit Christians, Ram Jethmalani and Shanti Bhushan cited the Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission Report which endorsed the case of Dalit Christians requiring reservations and for the Constitution (SC) Order, 1950 to be expanded to include Christians as well. They said that the Commission’s report made it clear that there was no change in social status with a mere change in religion.  

It has been opined that the Christian missionaries that first arrived in Bharat attempted to recruit converts majorly from the upper castes who had the resources to attend missionary run English medium convent schools that still remain a dream for many from the lower castes. It is also said that Christian schools have separate shifts for underprivileged kids who are taught in vernacular and not English medium. Be that as it may, the fact remains that the Church discriminates between the rich and the poor and casteism in Christianity is a reality.

The irony and the hypocrisy of the Church is hard to miss! While on the one hand it denounces Hindu Dharma as casteist in order to lure people with the promise of equality and on the other they perpetuate the same differences within the Church.

Since missionaries ask Hindus in general and the lower castes in particular to embrace Christianity as it doesn’t have the “evil caste system practiced in Hindu Dharma”, shouldn’t converts naturally lose their caste identity once they become Christians? Doesn’t this amount to fraud since Christians are propagating the same system which they call evil?

In many places across Bharat several churches have separate gates for Dalit Christians and in some places, there are even separate Churches and cemeteries for the Dalits. This discrimination is not a recent one but has been going on since almost a century or probably more. Prathyaksha Raksha Daiva Sabha, commonly known as PRDS, founded in 1909 by the Dalit activist and poet Poikayil Yohannan is one of the well-known Dalit Churches in Kerala.

Another important point to note is that while the Church and Christian missionaries want quotas for Dalit Christians in government jobs, there is no place for Dalits in the power structure of the Church itself.

A report by the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front says that the practice of caste is prevalent in the formation of parishes and can also be seen in the erection of separate chapels in the same village for Dalits and other caste Christians.

Discrimination is also evident in the denial of opportunities for Dalit Christians in the parish administration as well as in the priesthood. For example, despite the fact that more than 70% of the Catholic converts in Tamil Nadu are Dalits, only 4 of the 18 Bishops are Dalit Christians. The scenario is not very different in other parts of the country either.

It is crystal clear that Christian missionaries use the equality card only to lure gullible Hindus to Christianity and their harpings of casteism being an evil of Hindu Dharma is just a ploy to force people to embrace Christianity. They better set their house in order before pointing fingers at others.               

References:

  1. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Do-Christians-also-practise-caste-system-asks-SC/articleshow/2218560.cms
  2. https://www.minorityaffairs.gov.in/sites/default/files/volume-1.pdf
  3. https://www.minorityaffairs.gov.in/sites/default/files/volume-2.pdf
  4. https://swarajyamag.com/ideas/the-hypocrisy-behind-the-dalit-christian-demand-for-caste-reservation-benefits
  5. https://theprint.in/opinion/vhp-rss-panic-christianity-religious-conversion-failed-project-india/498698/
  6. https://scroll.in/article/876000/is-the-caste-system-deep-rooted-among-christians-in-india-a-kerala-bishop-stirs-up-a-hornets-nest
  7. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-11229170

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