Don’t sell Jesus, Baptist leader asks Naga politicians
By Matters India Reporter
Kohima: The leader of Baptists in Nagaland has urged politicians in the Christian-majority state not to betray their faith for money and power.
“Do not surrender your Christian principles and above all your faith for the sake of money and development,” says Reverend Aelhou Keyho, general secretary of the Nagaland Baptist Churches Council (NBCC) in a letter addressed to leaders of all political parties, mostly Christians, in the northeastern Indian state.
Nagaland is scheduled to elect its legislative assembly on February 27.
Reverend Keyho urged the state’s politicians not to fall into “the hands” of those using development as a ploy to “pierce the heart of Jesus Christ” and “allow God to weep.” This was In an apparent reference to the attempts by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to forge electoral alliance and capture power in Nagaland.
The Baptist leader said he was compelled to write the open letter to caution the Naga politicians about a party that works “tooth and nail” to make its presence known and seen in Nagaland, a frontline Christian-majority state in India. “Have you ever seriously questioned their intention? If you have not, do not be fooled,” the letter said.
The Church leader noted that since the people of Nagaland are “fond of propaganda” they fail to understand how Christians are being persecuted in other parts of the country.
The persecution of Christians has “tripled” in recent years with pastors, evangelists and missionaries being dragged openly in the streets, harassed and insulted. “Their homes are destroyed and children discriminated in schools. Worship places are burnt down and believers are often disturbed and harassed,” the February 9 letter said.
Reverend Keyho also lamented that the government has barred several Church leaders from overseas from entering India. “The most recent happening is the refusal of visa for the Baptist Alliance president Reverend Paul Msiza” on February 8, he added.
He also expressed his anguish over being “closely watched and followed” in India.
“God must be weeping when Naga politicians” run after those seeking to destroy Christianity in India, Reverend Keyho said. “What will become of us and the Christians in India” if “Christian politicians easily embrace the political ideologies of those who seek to destroy the Christian faith in India?” he asked.
He also wanted to know how political parties in Nagaland would justify their alliance with the BJP. “Is your political party willing to sell Jesus for the sake of development?”
The BJP has formed an alliance with the Nationalist Democratic People’s Party (NDPP), a local party, after ending its 15-year-old alliance with the Naga People’s Front.
In an earlier interview to The Indian Express, Reverend Keyho said getting a regional party has emboldened the BJP. “While politicians will say the BJP is only a political party and we are not part of the RSS, it is just political talk.”
Regarding the NBCC’s open stand against the BJP, the Baptist leader said: “This time it (the RSS-backed BJP) has really become a threat. That is why we felt we had to make a strong statement not only on behalf of the church here but also on behalf of Christians in the country in general.”
The BJP faces several challenges in Nagaland and Meghalaya, a neighboring state that too goes poll on February 27. In both the poll-bound states, the BJP is seen as an anti-minority party.
The saffron party’s alleged support for pan-India “beef ban” and silence over attacks on minorities have put the BJP on the backfoot in the two states.