Indian Christians not allowed to know politician’s religion before voting

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In a ruling, the Apex Court has banned Indian Christians from knowing the religion of the politician before voting. The judges decided that candidates will not be able to use religion to seek votes. “Religion has no role in electoral process, which is a secular activity,” the ruling pointed out.

Supreme Court of India

Supreme Court’s judges said that Christians will no longer be able to know the religion of prospective politicians before an election. They said that politicians must not be allowed to use religion for their campaigns. They said that not until voting, that the politicians must open up about their faith or religion. They stressed that if any politician is found violating the ruling, he would be viewed as corrupt.

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Chief Justice of India Justice TS Thakur remarked that religion is a matter man and God and should not be involved in politics. The ruling gathered four votes while three votes were cast against it. Those opposing the ban maintained: “Discussion on caste, creed and religion is constitutionally protected within and outside elections and this cannot be restricted.” Generally, Christians vote for Christian politicians in Indian elections particularly in areas where they are underrepresented.

“In 2015, religious tolerance deteriorated and religious freedom violations increased in India. Minority communities, especially Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs, experienced numerous incidents of intimidation,
harassment, and violence, largely at the hands of Hindu nationalist groups. Members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tacitly supported these groups and used religiously-divisive language to further inflame tensions.

These issues, combined with longstanding problems of police bias and judicial inadequacies, have created a pervasive climate of impunity, where religious minority communities feel increasingly insecure, with no recourse when religiously-motivated crimes occur.” United States Commission for International Religious Freedom stated in its report.

In the last year, “higher caste” individuals and local political leaders also prevented Hindus considered part of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Dalits) from entering religious temples.

“Christian communities, across many denominations, reported numerous, and increased, incidents of harassment and attacks in the last year, which they attribute to Hindu nationalist groups with the BJP’s tacit support. In early 2016, an advocacy group reported that there were at least 365 major attacks on Christians and their institutions during 2015, compared to 120 in 2014; these incidents affected more than 8,000 Christians,” the report said.

“For example, in November 2015, Hindu nationalists severely beat 40 Christians worshiping in a private home in Telangana state, killing one woman’s unborn child. In February 2016, a mob of 35 people beat Father Jose Kannumkuzhy of the Ramanathapauram Syro-Malabar diocese and three lay church officials in Tamil Nadu state. Reportedly, local police seldom provide protection, refuse to accept complaints, rarely investigate, and sometimes encourage Christians to move or hide their religion.”

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