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Christians Challenge India's Census

on 2001/2/16 8:46:02 ( 1461 reads )


NEW DELHI, February 15, 2001: Christian church authorities in India have launched a legal challenge to the country's massive population census, alleging it infringes on the religious freedom of lower-caste Christians. A statement of the All-India Christian Council said the census did not give members of the Scheduled Caste category, popularly called Dalits (oppressed, very low caste), the option of choosing from the Muslim, Christian, animist, indigenous, agnostic or "no-faith" categories. These Reuters report fails to explain the issue, which stems from the fact "reservations" in jobs and school slots are made for low caste and untouchable Hindus -- the Indian version of affirmative action. However, when Indian's constitution was drafted in 1947, Christians (and Muslims) were not allowed such reservations, on the basis that their faith did not recognize caste, so therefore no convert suffered the same disadvantages that they did when a Hindu. Of course, this is not the case, and the Christian churches are divided along the same caste lines as the Hindus. That is, a Dalit Hindu ends up a Dalit Christian, and a brahmin Hindu ends up a brahmin Christian, with separate churches and all. The Christians feel they will get more Dalit converts if they can get rid of this provision ending reservations for converts, apparently a more feasible solution to them than ridding their community of caste divisions.

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