Nagaland: Church plays the role of the opposition as it asks BJP to prove its ‘secularism’

In poll-bound Nagaland, Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC), the state’s biggest church organisation, allegedly egged by the Congress and BJP’s erstwhile ally Naga People’s Front (NPF), has launched a campaign against the BJP with communal undertones. Painting the BJP as a ‘Hindu’ party that will ‘destroy Christianity’, the Church’s campaign seems to be aimed at boosting the prospects of non-BJP parties in the state. Earlier, the Church council had called Yoga a ‘deeply Hindu’ practice and advised Churches to not practice Yoga and asked the voters to ‘choose between Trishul and cross’.

Nagaland, where the majority of the population follows Christianity, candidates are falling over each other to reinforce their Christian identity and have promised to protect Christianity and safeguard the interests of the church. In an interview with Firstpost, Reverend Zelhou Keyho, general secretary of NBCC, appealed to the BJP to declare itself secular and asked the BJP to answer questions related to its ‘Hindutva connection’. Earlier, he had asked the political parties to question the intent of the BJP. He claims that the places of worship are destroyed and minorities are harassed. He further added that he is not against the BJP but the RSS.

As per reports, Nagaland’s NFP leader and former chief minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu has been telling voters that the BJP has a larger agenda of declaring India a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ where all non-Hindu parties will be banned. “If the BJP comes to power in this Christian state, they (the BJP) will tell the rest of the world that since Christian Nagaland has voted for BJP, Christians want to convert to Hinduism and then they will force us into paganism. Our faith is destined to die and very soon, Nagaland will stop being the abode of Christ and will become the den of anti-Christ where idols will be worshipped and the heathen will rule,” Shurhozelie told a group of youth leaders and social activists in state capital Kohima a couple of days ago. Another Congress leader said that if elected to power, the BJP will make Hinduism a compulsory faith in India.

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This is not the first time Church is trying to influence electoral politics. In poll-bound Meghalaya, too, it was reported that in a bid to stop the BJP, the churches are getting into electoral politics.

Last year, during Goa elections, Goan Padre had asked devotees to vote for specific candidates. In fact, a Congress leader from Goa had been forced to retire from active politics after the Church allegedly refused to back his candidature. Following that, in August last year for the by-polls, a magazine named Renowakao, run by a Panjim church Bishop’s House, carried an article which directly attacked the BJP and asked the voters to rein in the ‘tyranny’ prevalent in the whole nation by voting against Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.

In the recently concluded Gujarat elections, too, a Church in Gujarat urged the people to save India from ‘nationalistic forces’. In a letter, Archbishop Thomas Macwan associated with the Archdiocese of Gandhinagar had subtly tried to influence the voters’ preference.

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