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Indian Church to observe ‘day of prayer and fasting’ amid growing religious polarization

The Catholic Church in India has called for observing March 22 as a “day of prayer and fasting for peace and harmony in the country.”

“There is an unprecedented religious polarization which is harming the cherished social harmony in our country and endangering democracy itself,” said a statement released at the conclusion of the 36th biennial assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) in Bangalore.

“There is an apprehension that divisive attitudes, hate speeches, and fundamentalist movements are eroding the pluralistic ethos which has always characterized our country and its constitution. The fundamental rights and minority rights guaranteed by the constitution should never be undermined,” the statement read.

Hindu flags raised on churches and mosques

The unusually critical statement from the Indian Church was seen as a criticism of the federal government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, leader of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), who observers say has promoted a Hindu nationalist agenda since 2014 when he assumed office.

Millions among India’s more than 1 billion Hindus were glued to the live telecast of the consecration of a grand temple dedicated to lord Ram — a prominent Hindu deity of northern India — in Ayodhya in northern Uttar Pradesh on Jan. 22.

Modi took part in the ceremony, calling it a “historic day.” He encouraged people to celebrate the opening of the temple by decorating their houses and lighting oil lamps, UCA News reported.

Christians and Muslims raised the alarm when Hindu fundamentalists took to the streets and hoisted Hindu saffron flags atop churches and mosques.

However, local authorities in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh failed to take action against what was seen by many as an anti-Christian and anti-Muslim act.

Read more at Catholic News Agency 

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