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Spewing venom against different beliefs, defies the purpose of religion: Madras HC

 The court warned a Christian Evangelist for his reckless statements against Hindu Gods, but quashed the FIRs

Sabrangindia 06 Feb 2021

Madras High Court

The Madras High Court was hearing a matter seeking the quashing of multiple FIRs against the petitioner, who is the founder of a trust- Jesus Redeems Ministry. The allegation against him was that he made certain statements about Hindu temples and Hindu Gods that affected the religious sentiments of the Hindu community across Tamil Nadu.

Justice N. Anand Venkatesh quashed the FIRs after the evangelist Mohan C Lazarus tendered an unconditional apology, but made some strict observations about people’s belief systems and social harmony. He said:

“The whole object of religion is to enable humans to evolve themselves into better beings… Unfortunately, in many instances, people get blindly attached to their religious beliefs and tend to make demeaning statements against other religions. They do not realise that spirituality is not a medium through which each religion competes with each other to show its superiority over the other.”

Emphasising on the peaceful co-existence of different faiths in a pluralistic society, Justice Venkatesh said, “People who make such reckless statements think that such statements will make their religious beliefs superior and the beliefs that they demean, inferior. This is not the purpose of religion and religious faith…. Spewing venom against another religious faith and developing hatred among the followers of a particular religion against another, defies the very purpose of religionwhich is meant to help a human being evolve towards higher truths.”

The court placed the onus of responsibility and respect for another religious faith, on people who are involved in the propagation of religion. He said, “If the petitioner is going to make reckless statements which have the propensity of demeaning another religious faith, it will only sow seeds of hatred among people across religious faiths. Every word uttered by any person holding an influential status in their respective religions has the potential to make or mar the inner development of a person. Therefore, such persons are required to exercise a great amount of responsibility while uttering each word.”

As Indian secularism stresses the equal tolerance of all religions, the Single-judge Bench noted that it was distinct from Western Secularism as it is not anti-religious. It gives to all its citizens equal freedom of conscience and religion. The judgment read, “The failure to practice tolerance would only lead to a form of alienation from one’s fellow citizens and the same will have a cascading effect on various other factors that are instrumental in maintaining peace, order and brotherhood in the State and this cannot be put to jeopardy at any cost.”

The High Court held a strong view that people who are capable of influencing large sections of the society that is driven by its religious sentiments, need to be extremely “cautious and conscientious” in exercising their rights, be it one of expression, religion or any other right. Justice Venkatesh held that,

“It cannot be at the cost of injuring the sentiments and rights of other fellow citizens who also form a constituent part of the rich culture and value system that our nation embodies. This Court would not hesitate to say that it is in fact the fundamental duty cast upon every citizen to “preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture”, and that such heritage and culture cannot be at any circumstance seen as one independent of the religious, cultural and civilizational sentiments that have been rooted, ingrained and etched in the history, soul and spirit of this nation.”

The judgment also cites excerpts from the Bible and notes that, “The words of Jesus Christ clearly goes on to reveal that the religion or its ideals do not intend to, under any circumstances, incite its followers to judge or demean another religion for the purpose of its own growth and propagation. Therefore, it is incumbent on the followers of the religion to stand by the ideals of their faith and God.”

The judgment may be read here: 

 

Related:

Why SC refuses to quash FIR’s against Amish Devgan for his 'Lootera Chishti' remark

Terrorised by trolls, comedians apologise for hurting religious sentiments

US slams India yet again on subject of religious freedom

Spewing venom against different beliefs, defies the purpose of religion: Madras HC

 The court warned a Christian Evangelist for his reckless statements against Hindu Gods, but quashed the FIRs

Madras High Court

The Madras High Court was hearing a matter seeking the quashing of multiple FIRs against the petitioner, who is the founder of a trust- Jesus Redeems Ministry. The allegation against him was that he made certain statements about Hindu temples and Hindu Gods that affected the religious sentiments of the Hindu community across Tamil Nadu.

Justice N. Anand Venkatesh quashed the FIRs after the evangelist Mohan C Lazarus tendered an unconditional apology, but made some strict observations about people’s belief systems and social harmony. He said:

“The whole object of religion is to enable humans to evolve themselves into better beings… Unfortunately, in many instances, people get blindly attached to their religious beliefs and tend to make demeaning statements against other religions. They do not realise that spirituality is not a medium through which each religion competes with each other to show its superiority over the other.”

Emphasising on the peaceful co-existence of different faiths in a pluralistic society, Justice Venkatesh said, “People who make such reckless statements think that such statements will make their religious beliefs superior and the beliefs that they demean, inferior. This is not the purpose of religion and religious faith…. Spewing venom against another religious faith and developing hatred among the followers of a particular religion against another, defies the very purpose of religionwhich is meant to help a human being evolve towards higher truths.”

The court placed the onus of responsibility and respect for another religious faith, on people who are involved in the propagation of religion. He said, “If the petitioner is going to make reckless statements which have the propensity of demeaning another religious faith, it will only sow seeds of hatred among people across religious faiths. Every word uttered by any person holding an influential status in their respective religions has the potential to make or mar the inner development of a person. Therefore, such persons are required to exercise a great amount of responsibility while uttering each word.”

As Indian secularism stresses the equal tolerance of all religions, the Single-judge Bench noted that it was distinct from Western Secularism as it is not anti-religious. It gives to all its citizens equal freedom of conscience and religion. The judgment read, “The failure to practice tolerance would only lead to a form of alienation from one’s fellow citizens and the same will have a cascading effect on various other factors that are instrumental in maintaining peace, order and brotherhood in the State and this cannot be put to jeopardy at any cost.”

The High Court held a strong view that people who are capable of influencing large sections of the society that is driven by its religious sentiments, need to be extremely “cautious and conscientious” in exercising their rights, be it one of expression, religion or any other right. Justice Venkatesh held that,

“It cannot be at the cost of injuring the sentiments and rights of other fellow citizens who also form a constituent part of the rich culture and value system that our nation embodies. This Court would not hesitate to say that it is in fact the fundamental duty cast upon every citizen to “preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture”, and that such heritage and culture cannot be at any circumstance seen as one independent of the religious, cultural and civilizational sentiments that have been rooted, ingrained and etched in the history, soul and spirit of this nation.”

The judgment also cites excerpts from the Bible and notes that, “The words of Jesus Christ clearly goes on to reveal that the religion or its ideals do not intend to, under any circumstances, incite its followers to judge or demean another religion for the purpose of its own growth and propagation. Therefore, it is incumbent on the followers of the religion to stand by the ideals of their faith and God.”

The judgment may be read here: 

 

Related:

Why SC refuses to quash FIR’s against Amish Devgan for his 'Lootera Chishti' remark

Terrorised by trolls, comedians apologise for hurting religious sentiments

US slams India yet again on subject of religious freedom

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