Christian leaders in India have criticised a Hindu group’s demand to remove Bibles from a Government hospital in Shillong, the capital of Christian-majority Meghalaya state. Source: ucanews.org.
The Legal Rights Observatory, an activist group backed by prominent Hindu group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), petitioned the state’s top officials and police chief to remove the Bible from Shillong Civil Hospital in north-eastern India.
The October 3 letter from the pro-Hindu group wanted the state “to immediately remove every copy of the Holy Bible placed near patients’ beds”.
Their demand came after the state Government on September 29 removed an idol of elephant-headed Hindu deity Ganesha from the entrance of the National Institute of Technology in Shillong. The Government acted under pressure from the Jaintia Students Union, whose members are mostly Christians.
Placing the Bible near a patient’s bed amounts to “forcing the non-Christians to read it for a medical cure” and violates personal liberty, the Hindu group argued in their letter. Keeping the Bible near patients also “goes against the spirit of Article 18 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.
But Christian leaders called it part of a plan to disturb communal harmony in the state, where Christians form 75 per cent of its population of three million.
“It is part of the hidden agenda of the ruling party. They, from time to time, create an atmosphere that can disturb the social harmony of our country,” said Fr Felix Anthony, the Church’s spokesman in north-eastern India.
“The Bible controversy is a tactic to disturb the peace and harmony among different faiths,” Fr Anthony told ucanews.org.
The priest from Miao Diocese in nearby Arunachal Pradesh state said such controversies are “deliberately generated to divert the attention of people from real issues like hunger and unemployment.”
Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, said the argument that placing the Bible in hospitals can influence faith cannot be justified.
“If that’s true, several of our Government offices should be influencing faith. In our country, there are many Government offices having idols of Hindu gods and goddesses. That does not mean they influence the faith” of people visiting them, Mr George said.