Hindu-Catholic interfaith meet in US amid anti-Christian violence in India

Washington, DC (Story By: Raif Karerat– Matters India): The Durga Temple of Fairfax Station, Virginia, is slated to host a Hindu-Catholic interfaith conference in conjunction with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on May 23.

The dialogue is designed to promote better understanding between the two religions, collaboration on social issues, and working together to achieve common goals.

The event will prominently feature comments by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue at the Vatican and Anantanand Rambachan, professor of religion, philosophy, and Asian studies at St. Olaf College.

Other speakers include Abhaya Asthana, president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America; Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington, Va.; Anuttama Dasa, chairman of the ISKCON Governing Body Commission; and Francis X. Clooney, Parkman professor of divinity and director of the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard University.

Anti-Christian sentiment has gained traction in India, especially in the context of “Hindu nationalism,” which could arguably be translated to “Hindu jingoism.”

According to the Human Rights watch, violence against Christians is viewed by prominent national political factions as a tactical means to political ends.

A separate report from September 1999 revealed the number of incidents involving anti-Christian violence rose in the months following the victory of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in March 1998.

India’s current prime minister Narendra Modi, is the head of the BJP, and was previously implicated in the 2002 Gujarat riots, reports americanbazaaronline.com.

However, in early 2015, Modi said his government would react strongly against any acts of religious violence.

Speaking at an event celebrating the canonization of Father Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Sister Euphrasia as saints, Modi stated, “The tradition of welcoming all faiths in India is as old as India itself … We believe that there is truth in every religion. This is critical for peace and harmony in the nation.”

According to Vinay Lal of the UCLA College of Letters and Sciences, ongoing acts of violence against Christians include the arson of churches, re-conversion of Christians to Hinduism under the threat of physical violence, distribution of threatening literature, burning of Bibles, raping of nuns, murder of Christian priests, and destruction of Christian schools, colleges, and cemeteries.

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