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It Is The Church And Not Rev. George Ponnaiah That Is A Danger To Democracy

Author: Aravindan Neelakandan
Publication: Swarajyamag.com
Date: July 24, 2021
URL:       https://swarajyamag.com/ideas/it-is-the-church-and-not-rev-george-ponnaiah-that-is-a-danger-to-democracy

There have been demands for apology from the demagogue priest of Catholic Diocese Rev. George Ponnaiah. But this is not an individual aberration but a systemic danger to democracy and secularism from the Church. Let us deal it that way.

The hateful rhetoric unleashed by Rev. George Ponnaiah of the Catholic Diocese in Kanyakumari district has created an unexpected avalanche of reactions.

Many have demanded an apology and for his part he has expressed ‘regret’.

In reality we are wasting our time on an individual. Hindus of Kanyakumari district should know that better than anyone else. In fact Hindus grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s know that. The new generation of Hindus were falling into a delusional sense of ‘that was past.’

The elections proved otherwise.

As the recent calculated electoral defeat of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Pon. Radhakrishnan shows, communal vote canvassing is rampant in the district. Thanks to demographics and institutional control (hospitals, schools and such) of the Church it is able to now decide the electoral winner in this southern most district of India.

It is the kind of power that the Church had in Europe before the Western renaissance and enlightenment.

Nevertheless, the speech of the Catholic priest has brought out the facts clearly and directly. Every sane individual not bitten by the religious supremacism bug should be thankful to the Reverend. He has revealed a facet of the Church hitherto well disguised - bigotry towards other faiths and intolerance are its hallmarks.

Therefore, it would be wrong to ask for the apology of the above-said priest.

That would be reducing the entire phenomenon to be the fault of an individual. Whether he apologises or not, he is part of the Church. The Church has not and will not defrock him. The Church will in-fact stand by him.

Hence, what we need is an explanation – not from the priest but from the Church. He has made four things clear:

First, the Church as a whole, from the bishops to the parish priests to the ground level workers worked for DMK and Congress.

‘With the signalling of the eyes’ by the Bishops the Christian votes were transferred to a particular candidate, he boasted in his speech. The priest has sweetly implicated the entire Church as a political entity using its religious authority to influence elections in a secular nation. The Church should explain this.

Second, he speaks openly of a demographic change and says that they are working on it. Hindus would be reduced to a minority – 30 percent or less in the district, he claims. The government should initiate an investigation if the Church does have such a plan (and everyone knows the answer).

Third, the remarkable consistency in the anti-Hindu rhetoric of the priest in 2021 and the anti-Hindu inflammatory propaganda launched by Christians during 1982 communal riots in the district, is striking. For example, the inflammatory Christian posters from 1980s spoke of India as begging the Christian nations in the world forum.’

Such posters were submitted as evidence in the Justice Venugopal Commission which investigated the Mandaikadu riots. These shocked the justice who was himself of Dravidianist bent of mind. The same mindset of looking down upon India is seen in the speech of the priest.

So, one has to deduce from this that the speech is not the folly of an individual. The hatred and anti-Indian feeling are systemic to Christian theology. The Catholic Church and even the other Christian dioceses in the district owe an explanation.

Fourth, given the open confession of the priest regarding the political nature of the Christian Church, once the election code of conduct comes into force in any place the sermons to be made in the Church should be submitted to the Election Commission for prior approval. All sermons made in the Church during the period the code of conduct is in force should be videotaped by government agencies and submitted to the election commission.

If democratic institutions can be subverted by the Church it would indeed be a very black day in our history. Therefore, an apology is insufficient. We must seek to find ways to stop the Church from acting on the basis of religious intolerance and supremacism. We must, quite literally, stop the Church from interefering in the affairs of State.

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