Christians Observe Dalit Liberation Sunday on Nov. 12

Published 16 November 2017  |  
NCCI

Christians in India have marked Dalit Liberation Sunday on Nov. 12, with an aim to highlight the need for Christians to "be the voice of the voiceless" in society.

Dalits, even when they are Hindus, suffer discrimination. But, Dalit Christians are facing additional discrimination based on their faith. They are losing eligibility for government assistance programs available to other Dalits.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) has joined with the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) to observe Dalit Liberation Sunday every second Sunday of November.

Under the banner "Religious Freedom of the Dalits," Christians have been voicing against the extreme marginalization—denial of religious freedom to choose any religion they want.

"Even in this modern world the atrocities against Dalits have not decreased rather it is on the increase," said Fr Z. Devasagaya Raj, secretary of the Office of Scheduled Castes-Backward Classes (OSCBC), CBCI.

Dalit Liberation Sunday is observed to remind Christians of their "call and responsibility ... to show solidarity and love towards these Dalits who are the victims of the caste system," said Raj, according to Crux.

Dalits are not only economically poor, but politically powerless and socially outcastes.

"The man-made caste system which remains a social stigma throughout generations has divided us, so that we are not able to experience the real presence of God in our lives," said Bishop Anthonisamy Neethinathan, chairperson of OSCBC.

"God the Father created us to be His loving children and to become Christ like. But in reality, we remain strangers to God by discriminating against our own fellow members of the mystical body of Christ. The Dalit Christians not only experience discrimination within the Church but also by the state and the society," Neethinathan added.

Even inside the church, some sort of discrimination exists among the fellow Christians.

The church has declared caste discrimination as a grave social sin and is taking "necessary steps to eradicate the caste-based discrimination that exists in the Church," said Neethinathan.

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