Friday, November 8, 2013

Seperation of State from Church – Mizoram



Mizoram, a Christian state in India  is going to undergo an election this November, Mizoram has had Christianity in the state for over 100 years with the Church playing an important role in terms of education and healthcare even before a proper government was set up during the British Colonial Times. The society has benefitted immensley for being a Christian state as the Christian missionaries promoted literacy programs and a healthier lifestyle  to the Mizo People.
However, during the last few years,  It is easy to assume that some of the major religious Church in Mizoram  believe that it is essential to legislate more moral values into public life. Some of these major church groups have sought to influence the government  due to the fact that more than 90% of the state are Christians and are a very important vote bank for a small state like Mizoram. 
 
Some of the recent interference are:
1.       The Presbyterian Synod which held it’s annual meeting during the day of voting, instead of the Church changing the date  of the meeting or the meeting members  adjusting by voting in the morning, they sought to change the date through pressure groups , NGO’s and of course the Political parties, who naturally complied with it.
2.       The Church also holds a very strong hold in society, most of the business establishment are forbid from opening their business on Sunday because it’s the day of their worship.
3.       Mizoram Total Liquor Prohibition Act- While it is the duty of the Church to promote to it’s parish to abstain from liquor and drunkardness, it’s not right for the Church to prevail over the government to legislate prohibition in the state. What results is that many people illegally sell alcohol, many illegal people drinking alcohol and many deaths because of poor quality of alcohol and loss of revenue for the state.
4.       During this election and even previous elections, I have noticed that there are a number of Church Elders among the candidates, while a church Elder is a respected position of society, the sole criteria of MLA candidate selection should also be based on the person’s vision for development of the state. Not only his position within the Church. It must also be mentioned that when some of this Church Elder (Upa) have cases of corruption, the Church does very little to discourage this Church Elder Politicians to remove them for their positions. It could be because of their immense contribution to Church funding activities.

A common statement by many Mizo people is that "Mizoram is a Christian state." While it's true that the missionaries and early church members were influential in development of the state, it is also important to remember that India is officially a secular country and there are no special provisions favouring specific religions in its constitution and in its laws. The government is to be separated, for the most part, from organised religion.
The Church must stand for morality, God's Word and free will, and attempting to coerce people via legislative or other means runs completely counter to that. Faith should inspire and unite - not be used as a cudgel. And as for government, a free people should never be subject to legislated interference with one's beliefs or ability to worship according to his or her conscience.
The Government may frame laws for sinners and non sinners alike and the if it does not subscribe to the Biblical defination, eg Gay Marriage, Alcohol Prohibition. It must acknowedge that there’s a  difference between government allowing certain actions with which we might disagree on moral grounds ... as opposed to compelling them.  Instead the Church must do what it does best and did best in the society, which is to educate, serve others,  spread the gospel but not interefere in the business of governing. The Government should also do what it does best -- which most assuredly rules out telling people what to believe or how to worship or enacting any restrictions.
I  am not against any Church nor am I gay or an alcoholic  but I  strongly believe in a God who cherishes religious liberty and grants each individual the right to believe or not to believe in harmony with the dictates of their own conscience.

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