The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA) strongly condemns the Modi government of India’s Hindu nationalist (Hindutva) party, for removing Mahatma Gandhi’s favorite Hymn “Abide With Me”, from India’s Republic Day parade. This hymn has been a part of the official Parade played by the Indian Army Band every year for the past 73 years.
The President of FIACONA, Mr. Koshi George said, “The Modi government has sunk to a new low, just when you thought it could not possibly sink any further. The act of removing the hymn from India’s Republic Day Parade to be held this Wednesday (Jan 26), shows the silliness and deep-rooted hatred of this party against anything that resembles the Christian faith”.
The Hindutva party has long been arguing that, for India to be truly independent, she should shed the colonial past and all that are associated with it, including the Christian faith.
Mr. John Mathew, a FIACONA Board Member said, “Out of ignorance, Hindu nationalists consider the Christian faith in India to be a remnant of British rule. Christian faith was introduced to the Indian subcontinent in 52 AD by Apostle Thomas, long before certain segments of what is collectively known as Hinduism today was formed.”
Mr. George Abraham, also a Board Member said, “Yet, Modi and his party assume the Christian faith as a remnant of British rule. They ignore the fact that not only had many Christian missionaries helped spread Gandhi’s message, they had also joined him against the unjust policies of a Colonial power.” Moreover, he said, “Tens of thousands of Christians fought and sacrificed their lives in the Indian Army since India’s independence from British rule.” He reminds that the coinage of the word – “Hinduism” itself is of colonial origin.
Rev. Bryan Nerren, Pastor of House of Prayer and President of Asian Children’s Education Fellowship in Tennessee stated that, “The removal of Democratic customs and traditions are the clear indicators that Prime Minister Modi is leading the largest democracy into a religious dictatorship”.
Mr. John Prabhudoss, the Chairman of the Board said, FIACONA considers the act of removing the hymn from the Republic Day lineup this year as a new low even for this Modi government. It is a betrayal of the trust of hundreds of millions of people of the nation. A government calling itself Democratic must be impartial and respectful of all segments of its society.
Rev. Peter Cook, the Executive Director of the NY State Council of Churches, a part of the National Council of Churches (NCC-USA) said that, “The action of the Modi government is not only an insult to the sentiments of over 100 million people who follow the faith in India but also to millions of other people from all faith backgrounds. With this kind of open hostilities against people of faith in India, it’s no wonder people like Dr. Gregory Stanton of Genocide Watch warn that India would be where the next genocide takes place”.
FIACONA calls upon all congregations, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, and people of every faith in India and abroad to stand up in solidarity against this childish attempt by a bigoted government of the world’s largest democracy and join each other by singing “Abide With Me” on January 26th and on Sunday, January 30th in your congregations.