US lawmakers urged authorities in India’s eastern state of Orissa to prosecute perpetrators of violence against Christians, saying the nation’s reputation for tolerance was at stake.
In a letter to the state’s Chief Minister Navin Patnaik released Friday, the lawmakers voiced concern that many perpetrators of last year’s violence were still at large and intimidating their victims.
More than 100 Christian were killed and thousands more left homeless between August and October 2008 following the murder of a revered Hindu holy man, which was blamed on Christians.
While praising recent statements by India’s central government, the lawmakers said that local authorities have sometimes turned away victims seeking redress.
“Such attacks on the fundamental freedom of religion threaten not only India’s reputation for religious diversity, but also the very stability of India’s secular democracy,” the 21 lawmakers, led by Republican Trent Franks, wrote in the letter sent late last month.
“Given the recent experience with religiously inspired terrorism, we are concerned that if Hindu extremists can act with impunity toward religious minorities in India, these extremists and their ideologies will begin to affect international security as well.”
Christians account for 2.3 percent of the billion-plus population in India, which is majority Hindu but officially secular.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan official advisory panel, in August placed India on its watch list, citing violence against Christians in Orissa and Muslims in the western state of Gujarat.
The move brought swift condemnation from India, an emerging US ally, which said the nation had an independent judiciary and vigilant media to pursue any aberrations from its secular, multi-religious principles.
It may be useful to listen to the recent debate between Hindus and Christians that I summarized, in which two Hindus explain their view of human rights and how religious minorities should be treated. In some parts of India, if you do not accept the Hindu concept of polytheism, then you are opening yourself up to violence from Hindu extremists. On the other hand, the election of the Congress Party and the rejection of the BJP Party was a good sign that the bulk of Indians are more tolerant that the militant Hindus.
Deepak Chopra and intolerance for Christianity
Still more Chopra invective surfaced in The Washington Post this September, again targeting [Rick] Warren and reflecting the charm of the Left. “The abuse delivered by right-wing Christians is such an old story that we are long past irony,” Chopra wrote, before moving on to his favorite target.
“The Rev. Rick Warren has a record for trying to smooth the waters, but he also flirts with intolerance — toward gay marriage, for instance — and since his rationale is that a ‘loving’ God shares the same prejudices, what’s to stop others with worse tempers from following the same logic? When your God hates, you have permission to hate,” Chopra wrote.
When your guru hates, I guess that gives you permission to hate as well?
I think it’s encouraging that the bulk of Hindus seem to be moving away from the view of intolerant extremists like Deepak Chopra and the Hindu militants in Orissa.