Nagaland’s powerful Baptist Church has called for voters to uphold ‘Christian principles’ and vote against ‘Hindu forces’ unmindful of development and other concerns.
This appeal was made in an open letter to all political parties and voters of Nagaland by General Secretary of Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC), Reverend Zelhou Keyho – the said letter contains several wild allegations of “Bibles being burnt, pastors being dragged through the streets, Christian children being discriminated in schools, and of minority persecution having tripled”, apart from a thinly veiled call for secession from New Delhi.
News 18 has reported –
“Nagaland’s biggest church organisation, the Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC), has asked believers to choose between ‘Trishul’ and ‘Cross’.
The church organisation asked believers to not surrender Christian principles and faith for the sake of money, development into the hands of those who seek to “pierce the heart of Jesus Christ.”
The NBCC, in an open letter to presidents of all political parties in Nagaland, stated that India had experienced its “worst persecution of minority communities” in 2015-2017 under the BJP government.
“We cannot deny that the Hindutva movement in the country has become unprecedentedly strong and invasive in the last few years with BJP, the political wing of RSS, in power,” the NBCC general secretary observed in the letter.
“God must be weeping when Naga politicians are running after those who seek to destroy Christianity in India,” he added.
Strongly opposing what it called the “invasion” of Hindutva forces in Nagaland, Rev Keyho said that the party in power at the Centre is fighting tooth-and-nail to assert its presence in Nagaland, a Christian-majority state.
The letter went on to state, “Our people are fond of propaganda and because of this we often miss reality. India has experienced its worst persecution ever in 2015-2017. You will be fully aware that persecutions have been tripled in recent years. Pastors, evangelists and missionaries are dragged openly in the streets, harassed, insulted and many made to suffer. Their homes destroyed and children discriminated in schools. Worship places were burnt down and believers are often disturbed and harassed. The Bible is openly burnt and confiscated.”
Elections in Nagaland are usually fought on tribal issues, given that most of the candidates are mostly Christian. It is in this respect that this letter is viewed as unprecedented for its openly political-religious tones.
The state elections in Nagaland will be held on February 27, 2018, to elect 60 representatives. Counting of votes will take place on March 3, 2018.”
While national media provided just a glimpse of the vitriol and anti-Hindu sentiment within Reverend Keyho’s letter, a local digital outlet NagalandPost provides more details and reveals the true depth of Khoyo’s anti-Hindu and anti-India rant –
“Rev. Keyho reminded leaders that running for political offices for development was only half their task as their other duty was to protect and safeguard their Christian faith and principles which the people hold dear. Reminding them that development was not everything, he said when a house was put in order, development and others followed.
The reverend further remarked that in the past three years many NBCC partner leaders from abroad were denied visas and barred from entering India. He pointed out that Baptist World Alliance president Rev. Dr Paul Msiza was barred from visiting the Northeast on Thursday.
Expressing his pain that Christians were being closely watched and followed, Keyho asked the political party leaders whether they knew that missionaries could not preach or visit homes openly like the way they used to before BJP came to power.He said God must be weeping to see Naga politicians running after those seeking to destroy Christianity in India.”
Khoyo then rakes up the 19-year-old murder of Australian missionary Graham Staines to stir up the sense of victimhood and persecution in the faithful. He of course omits mentioning the terrible anti-Hindu and anti-tribal demagoguery of most missionaries, or the Christian extremism that led to the brutal 2008 murder of 82-year-old Swami Lakshmanananda.
“Recalling the gruesome burning alive of Australian missionary Graham Staines, along with his two sons Philip (10) and Timothy (6), at Manoharpur village in Odisha on January 23, 1999 by a Bajrang Dal gang, the NBCC general secretary said, “Now with such a group in power today, I am sure you are well aware what will become of us and Christians in India should Christian politicians easily embrace the political ideologies of those who seek to destroy the Christian faith in India.”
“What justification will your party give? Cannot we say, take everything from us but leave Jesus in Nagaland?Is your political party willing to sell Jesus for the sake of development? Do you remember what they tried to do with our Christmas and Good Friday?” he wrote.
Rev. Keyho said he was writing the letter on behalf of NBCC, the apex body of the Baptists, and on behalf of many believers who were praying for them but yet were unable to convey their heartfelt feelings and burden.”
After demonizing Hindus, RSS and BJP, Khoyo proceeds to take a potshot at “New Delhi” and tries to stoke separatist sentiments within the Nagas. What follows next is nothing but a thinly veiled call for secession –
“Urging the political leaders not to blame each other or make false promises, Rev. Keyho said it was not the Central government’s fault for the situation the Nagas find themselves in today for the fact that New Delhi was never interested in them “no matter how hard they try to convince you”. He said the Centre would only be happy if it could insult Nagas over and over again.
Appealing to them not to use the Central government’s show of interest to develop Nagas as party manifesto, the church leader said the community would develop if only the leaders could say enough was enough. Referring to the Naga political solution, he said, if it was possible, the matter would have been resolved long time ago. “Let us not blame the Congress or anyone in Delhi. The issue is down here in Nagaland. But I believe God is not done yet with the Nagas and when the time comes, India will not be able to do anything,” he underlined. Questioning why political affiliations had become a priority for them, he wondered whether it was because they could not become politicians without interference from outside.
Rev. Keyho said this aspect had confused the people as they were made to fight without knowing anything about what was happening. He urged them as responsible leaders of parties to control their respective parties from confusing the public. “If you fail in this, you will be failing not only yourself as a leader but the whole Nagas,” he pointed out.
Stating that NBCC’s 21st triennial convention at Impur, Mokokchung from February 2 to 4 had prayed for the Naga leaders in tears, the letter concluded by saying that the council could only pronounce God’s blessings and leave them in His hand so that His wisdom prevailed on their leadership.”
Hinduphobia in Christian-majority areas of North East
Anti-Hindu hate is nothing new for Nagaland and other parts of North East. Rev. Khoyo had recently passed a fatwa banning Yoga for all Christians, saying “Yoga is a spiritual and physical discipline deeply rooted in the religious beliefs and practices of Hinduism, and hence it is not compatible with Christianity.”
Last year, taking exception to the mentioning of a “Hindu Basti” in Tseminyu by the 28 Assam Rifles in a press release about an HIV & AIDS awareness programme conducted by the Army, the Tseminyu Students Union (TSU) issued a statement that, “No village under the Rengma region or Tseminyu territory falls under the domain of Hinduism….Nagaland is not a Hindu State and we will never allow fanatics to dictate our Christian State with baseless statements.”
Sadly, Church leaders across the country have followed this template of issuing communal guidelines before elections and whipping up victimhood frenzy in their followers. Before the just-concluded Gujarat state elections, Gandhinagar Archbishop sent out an official communique urging Christians to save the country from “Nationalist forces”. Even in the run up to the Goa elections, there were instances of a Goa Padre asking devotees at Christmas mass to vote for specific candidates.
Christianity has increased in Nagaland from less than 1% in 1901 to 88% in 2011, eliminating several unique tribal religions along the way. However, Nagaland still has 8.75% Hindu population today and one can only wonder about the plight of those minority Hindus when they hear such threatening words from the leading religious body of the Christian majority.
Dr. JK Bajaj and others from Centre For Policy Studies (CPS), as part of their seminal study of the 2011 Census, have shown how the demographics of the northeast have drastically changed in the last century. Much of the Christian expansion in the northeast occurred during 1931-51, and more prominently during 1941-51.In that period and following Independence, the Church began to inspire and lead the various militant assertions of tribal and regional sub-nationalism in this region. This seems to have helped the continued expansion of Christianity throughout the region after 1951.
The tribal populations of Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland have now become almost entirely Christian – no liberal has shed a tear over the terrible loss of this unique religious & cultural diversity. Tribals in other parts of North East such as Arunachal and Tripura continue to face the threat of complete cultural genocide at hands of Christian missionaries.
The Hinduphobia rampant in significant sections of Christian-majority regions of the North East reflect a deep-rooted fanaticism bred by Christian sects such as the Baptist Church – Baptists (an aggressively Evangelical Protestant sect with its base in Southern US) constitute more than 75% of Nagaland’s population.
Nagaland has witnessed a separatist insurgency for many decades led by The Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), a Christian Naga nationalist terror group whose main aim is to establish a sovereign Christian state, “Nagalim”, unifying all the areas inhabited by the Naga people in Northeast Bharat and Myanmar. The organization’s slogan is “Nagaland for Christ”.
NSCN’s manifesto is based on the principle of Socialism for economic development and a Baptist Christian religious outlook. In some of their documents the NSCN has called for recognising only the Baptist religion in Nagalim. The NSCN was declared a terrorist organisation in Bharat in 1967. In 2015, the Government of Bharat signed a peace accord with NSCN-IM faction but the NSCN-Khaplang faction has continued their terrorist campaign.
The National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT), is another terror organization backed by Baptist groups that seeks the secession of neighbouring Tripura. The NLFT includes in its aims the forced conversion of all tribespeople in Tripura to Christianity. The NLFT says that it is fighting not only for the removal of Bengali immigrants from the tribal areas, “but also for the tribal areas of the state to become overtly Christian”, and “has warned members of the tribal community that they may be attacked if they do not accept its Christian agenda”.
Tripura’s CPM-led state government contends that the Baptist Church of Tripura supplies arms and gives financial support to the NLFT. Reports describe activities such as the acquisition by the NLFT of explosives through the Noapara Baptist Church in Tripura.
One can only imagine the world-wide outrage if a Hindu religious body had made a similar appeal on such blatantly communal grounds in a Hindu-majority state like UP or Gujarat! The only good from such poisonous statements as the one made by Nagaland Baptist Church Council, is that it will hopefully open eyes of a few more citizens who have been fed the kool-aid of secularism for 70 years and told to regard ‘Hindu communalism’ as the most serious threat facing the nation.
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