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ICC Note:

An election commission in India has sent a notice to the Archbishop of Gandhinagar over his call to prayer for Christians regarding the upcoming Gujarat elections. In this call to prayer, the Archbishop called Christians to “save our country from nationalist forces” and “We are aware that the secular and democratic fabric of our country is at stake.” Much of this call to prayer seems to be directed to vote against candidates ideologically attached to the Hinduva movement liked to the BJP-led government. This movement, which seeks to establish India as a Hindu nation, is widely blamed for the recent rise in religious intolerance across India as well as the skyrocketing attacks against religious minorities. Was it wrong for the Archbishop to ask his followers to pray against these forces seeking to create an India where Christians are second class citizens? 

11/27/2017 India (Scroll) – The Election Commission on Saturday issued a notice to Archbishop Thomas Macwan of the Gandhinagar Archdiocese for his call to Christians to pray for the victory of “humane leaders faithful to the Indian Constitution” in the upcoming Gujarat Assembly elections, PTI reported.

The notice was served through Gandhinagar District Election Officer Satish Patel. He asked the archbishop to explain why his appeal should not be viewed as a violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

“We have issued a notice to the archbishop seeking clarity over his intention behind the letter, which was widely publicized in the media,” Patell said. “We have given him a few days’ time to respond.”

The commission will decide its course of action based on Macwan’s response.

“We understand the letter was an attempt to misguide voters and confuse the minority community voters at a time the Model Code of Conduct is in force,” Patel said. “Such language should not be used.”

Macwan had called for prayers to “save our country from nationalist forces” in a letter to the clergy dated November 21, but he had clarified that his appeal was not directed against a particular part. “The results of this election are significant and it will have its repercussion and reverberation throughout our beloved nation,” Macwan had written. “We are aware that the secular and democratic fabric of our country is at stake.”

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