Over 3,100 Christians from all over India including members of Parliament and retired policemen and civil servants have in a strongly worded statement raised questions about 100 leaders visiting with Prime Min ister Narendra Modi on Christmas Day 2023 and thereafter praising his policies and what his government stands for.
The public campaign, titled Not in our Name, Christmas Celebrations with Prime Minister, galvanised 3,100 signatures in just a few days. Evocatively worded, the statement speaks of the ongoing tensions in Manipur (since May 3, 2023) when Kuki Zo and Meitei Christians have been a special target as also the targeted attacks on the community in Uttar Pradesh and even Chhattisgarh.
The statement affixed to the signature campaign states:
“We are in the Christmas Season: a time when we are all called to internalize and actualize the gifts of joy, love, peace, truth, justice and hope which Jesus our Saviour offers to us!
“Today we also need to take legitimate pride in the fact that Christians in India have contributed significantly to the country: in the freedom struggle, as members of the Constituent Assembly, and ever since independence, in every sphere of public life particularly in the educational, medical, social, cultural and political sectors. The services of the Christian community to the poor and marginalized, the excluded and the exploited, irrespective of caste and creed, is unparalleled in the nation today. This fact has been duly and consistently acknowledged by citizens from all walks of life.
“However in the recent past, particularly since 2014, Christians in India have been victims of continued attacks and vilification from members of the ruling regime, all over the country. Christians and Christian schools and institutions have been hounded and harassed, their places of worship destroyed, they have been denied their ordinary rights as citizens and been subject to denigration and demonization. The anti-conversion laws which have been put into place in BJP-ruled States are used as weapons against the fundamental right to preach, practise and propagate one’s religion. Celebrations in schools have been stopped and Christians have been arrested without any warrant and put behind bars for no offence of theirs.
“Since May 3, 2023, the Christians of Manipur have been subject to constant attacks which still continues unabated and with apparent approval from the BJP Governments both in the State and at the Centre.
“In the wake of all this, it is ironic that the Prime Minister hosted around 100 Christian representatives of different denominations on Christmas morning for a celebration. While it is certainly within his right as Prime Minister to host a reception for whomsoever he wishes one naturally would question the intention of this reception when he has not condemned a single attack on the Christians, under his Prime Ministership. Interestingly, while he praised Jesus Christ and waxed eloquent about the services of the Christian community, he did not share remorse or empathy for the situation of the Christians in the country today.
“Those invited to the Christmas reception were a select group of Christians. While the invitation was from the Prime Minister, here was an opportunity for them to courteously decline the invite in the light of what has been happening to the Christians in Manipur and elsewhere.
Hence their acceptance of this invite was not in our name!
“The Christian representatives who spoke, thanked the Prime Minister profusely for many things! The hard truth is that the Prime Minister and his Government have consistently disregarded their constitutional mandate, be it to the minorities, the Adivasis, the Dalits, the backward castes, the farmers, labourers, migrants, etc.
Hence their gratitude to the Prime Minister was not in our name!
“When these Christian representatives spoke at the reception, they were giving a tacit approval to the omission and commission of this government.
Hence their words were not in our name!
“India today fares extremely badly on every global index be it in the economic, educational, health or social sphere. By their lack of prophetic courage to highlight the grim realities in the country today, these Christian representatives publicly betrayed the Gospel of Jesus and His values of truth, justice, joy, love, dignity and peace. Through their culpable silence, they failed to uphold the values enshrined in the Constitution of India.
Hence their silence was not in our name!
“Today we the Christians of India together with conscious and committed citizens pledge to protect and promote the Constitution, Country and Citizens of India and to work with and work for all those who are victims of an unjust, insincere and authoritarian regime.”
Among others, the following prominent members of the Christian community are signatories including Derek O’brien, Member of Rajya Sabha, M.G.Devashayam IAS (retired) and John Shilsi IPS (retired). Others include Dr Astrid Lobo-Gajiwala, Ms Flavia Agnes , Ms. Pamela Philipose, Ms. Minakshi Singh, Sr Patsy Khan , Fr. M.J. George SJ ( Rome), Fr. Xavier Jeyaraj SJ (Rome), Rajan Solomon, Fr. Anand IMS, Sr. Mudita Sodder RSCJ, Fr. Paulson Veliyannoor, CMF, Sr Molly Fernandes , Capt. Joseph C. D’Souza , Marine Consultant
The complete list of signatories may be read here: