Christian clergy to meet on February 13 to discuss RSS attempts to reach out to them

New Delhi (Mattters India): Over 200 heads of the Christian community, including all archbishops and a few cardinals are set to meet on February 13 in the capital as part of a national consultation to decide the community’s strategy on the efforts made by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to reach out to them to form a Christian outfit affiliated to the Sangh.

Recently, Economic Times had reported that the RSS has held meetings with Christian leaders as part of a plan to set up a Rashtriya Isai Manch, on the lines of the Muslim Rashtriya Manch that it established over a decade ago. RSS leader Indresh Kumar has already met two archbishops and many diocese heads to discuss the plan, after which the sangh sent some high level functionaries to Kerala which has one of the highest concentration of Christians in the country.

Senior RSS pracharak Indresh Kumar who is spearheading the mission said the RSS did not discriminate on the basis of caste or community. “Many Christian groups have already reached out to the Sangh. We have been having dialogue with them. Such meetings have already been held in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab and several others are to be held in other States in the coming weeks,” he said.

Members of the UCF (United Christian Forum) told Economic Times that the agenda points of the national consultation on February 13 at the Indian Social Institute would be – “Should there be a dialogue with Non-State-Actors such as the RSS, why a ‘non-state’ player such as the RSS was taking efforts to woo the Christian community and if it was an attempt to be the “Margdarshak” for Indian Christians and how is this effort linked to their larger strategy of annihilating minorities, dalits, adivasis and other ..

The meeting is expected to be attended by Church leaders and representatives from various Civil groups, including Dalit activists and human right activists such as Harsh Mandar.

“After talking to several clergy, we have decided that the meeting on February 13 will mainly throw light on how the Church leadership understands Hindutva ideology and how do civil society groups view meeting of Christian leaders with RSS leaders,” a senior Church head said.

It is understood that Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal President of CBCI has already told the christian heads to thread on the Sangh’s overtures carefully: “‘One thing is said and something different happens and so let them be clear what they have in their mind” is the message to us. But we are open to meeting people as long as they don’t make them political or consider our attendance as support to their agenda,” the senior Church leader added.

Savarimuthu Sankar, spokesperson, Delhi Catholic Archdiocese said dialogue cannot take place unless there is openness and a common ground based on values and principles. “Is RSS a legal entity? Is it accountable to the government and other legal agencies? These are some questions we also need to ask them. Also, we have suspicions on how the Sangh makes of these interactions. In 2014 when just a few Christian groups such as the Orthodox and Marthomites supported the BJP, they said the entire chri ..

The dialogue between the RSS and the church is not new, said Christian clergy who added they have had negotiations with the RSS when there were attacks on tribal Christians in Gujarat in 1998. The idea of ‘Indianising’ Churches was first floated in 2002 by former RSS sarsangchalak K Sudarshan which is being taken forward now, RSS members said.

“Indian Christians follow their religion within the cultural milieu of India. Ancient Christians in India were known as Nazranis, who have no connection with the Western Christianity. Many church heads in the North East and Kerala are in support of the Bharatiyakaran of Indian Isai because their rituals, way of living and thinking are ‘Hindu-like'” a senior RSS leader said.

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