In a possible technique to influence voters, the Gandhinagar Archbishop has sent out an official communique, which among other things urges Christians to save the country from “Nationalist forces”.
The Archbishop named Thomas Macwan associated with the Archdiocese of Gandhinagar sent out an official letter dated 21st November terming the upcoming Gujarat assembly election as significant for the future course of the country.
The letter addressed to the ‘Eminences, Graces and Lordships’ began by saying that the dates of the Gujarat assembly elections have been declared. It later embarked upon a possible fear mongering exercise by alleging that human rights are being violated and the secular, democratic fabric of the country is at stake. It further alleged that:
Not a single day goes without an attack on our churches, faithful or institutions. There is a growing sense of insecurity among the minorities, OBCs, BCs, poor and so on. Nationalist forces are on the verge of taking over the country. The election results of Gujarat State Assembly can make a difference
It then urged the Gujarat churches to hold prayers and seek divine intervention so that people faithful to the Indian constitution are elected to the Gujarat assembly. This letter incidentally used subtlety to get its message across and didn’t mention any political party and nor did it make any direct vote appeal.
As reported by us in the past, such veiled suggestions might mean that the Church doesn’t violate the Supreme Court order which has banned canvassing for votes in the name of religion, caste or language.
The Archbishop Thomas Macwan in his defence has claimed that the letter has not been issued with any malicious intent.
This isn’t the only time churches have tried to influence political discourse in the country. In the run up to the recently concluded Goa elections, there were instances of a Goa Padre asking devotees at Christmas mass to vote for specific candidates. Later when current Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had stood as a candidate during an assembly by-poll, a Goa church magazine had come out asking its followers to not vote for Parrikar.