Unlike Christian Countries, majority Hindu India follows a peculiar form of secularism, which has resulted in the alienation of millions of Hindus. In the United States, members of all faiths come together to protect religious freedom, promote equal treatment and ensure the separation of church and state. Strangely enough, in Hindu Majority India, Christians and Muslims never come forward and align with Hindus to address similar issues. This has caused a major shift in Hindu Attitudes towards other faiths in India. India’s Christians and Muslims can and must learn from its fellow minority faith communities such as Jews, Parsis and Buddhists who have always lived in peace with the Hindu Majority without a single incident of communal violence. Unfortunately, the religious leadership of both Christian and Muslim Communities in India has fallen into the traps set up by selfish politicians who seek to divide society in the name of religion for their own political survival. A genuine dialogue among all the major faiths of India is long overdue. The recent openness of Christian Religious Leaders of Kerala, where most of India’s Christians live, has been met with a sense of relief from Hindu Religious Leaders. This dialogue has produced good results and the misunderstanding and mistrust between communities has started to erode slowly.
Unequal treatment of Hindus
Hindus in many countries are not treated equally. The biggest example is India itself. Hence, there is a strong feeling that they are second class citizens even in the country of their birth and the largest Hindu Country in the world. This inequality is institutionalized and incorporated in the constitution and the laws of India. A major factor contributing to the growth of militancy and extremism among Hindus of India is the injustice suffered by Hindus ever since independence. This policy of preferential treatment is more prevalent when it comes to employment and education.
State interference in Religion
State interference in the religious affairs of Hindus is pervasive in India. About half a million Hindu Temples are officially administered by the State Governments in India. Hindus are not allowed to organize pilgrimages to Hindu Holy Places without the interference of the state. Imagine a situation where half a million churches are run by the government in America and all the income from those churches go to the treasury for various non-religious expenditures of the government. A revolution will be a certainty if that were ever to happen in America. But, in Hindu Majority India, it is not even a political issue, at least so far. Furthermore, there is not even a single statement of opposition to this draconian practice from the religious leadership of other faiths.
Attacks on Hindus
Many Hindu Religious Sites are under attack either from the Muslims or the Christians. Muslims have foiled the efforts of Hindus to construct a temple at the birthplace of Bhagwan Shri Ram in Ayodhya, considered by all Hindus to be one of the seven most important holy places in the world. In the aftermath of the demolition of the disputed structure in 1992, more than 600 Hindu temples were destroyed by Muslims.
Christian militant groups have engaged in a crusade to cleanse all symbols of Hindu Heritage from the Northeast of India and many Tribal Areas of India. These militant and terrorist Christian groups enjoy the moral and material support of mainstream Christian Churches in India and worldwide.
The silence of Christian Churches regarding the countless abductions, kidnappings, rapes, murders, massacres, destruction of temples, and various forms of persecution by Christians in the Northeast of India have contributed to heightening of tension between Hindus and Christians. In addition, the emergence of a sustained campaign to falsely implicate Hindus and Hindu Organizations in violence against Christians has begun to backfire. Most Hindus are now aware of this propaganda by radical Christian Groups. When news of atrocities are reported in the media and later proved to be absolutely false, there are no corrective measures taken to undo the damage done to Hindus resulting in further mistrust.
Dialogue between religions is the only solution to address the challenges of mistrust, misunderstanding, intolerance and hatred. We must address the sources of conflict if we wish to eliminate conflict.