Two news articles caught my attention this morning.
Claims of council bullying in Whanganui over prayer in New Zealand
The West is fast moving away from its Christian roots and becoming secular.
For Indians, on the other hand, this same word “Secular” conveys a different nuance of meaning because of the way in which it is enshrined in the constitution of India.
As children in school, we memorised the preamble to the constitution in Civics classes. It is of interest to me that even during those years when I was in middle school and high school, a significant change was made to the preamble by the Forty-second Amendment in 1976. The word “Secular” was added to the text.
Thus this is how the Preamble reads today.
WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;
IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.
I am thrilled about the insertion of the word “Secular” in our founding document. This is because in this context,”it implies equality of all religions and religious tolerance. India, therefore does not have an official state religion. Every person has the right to preach, practice and propagate any religion they choose. The government must not favour or discriminate against any religion. It must treat all religions with equal respect. All citizens, irrespective of their religious beliefs are equal in the eyes of law. No religious instruction is imparted in government or government-aided schools. Nevertheless, general information about all established world religions is imparted as part of the course in Sociology, without giving any importance to any one religion over the others. The content presents the basic/fundamental information with regards to the fundamental beliefs, social values and main practices and festivals of each established world religion.” (You can read about what secularism means in the Indian context from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secularism_in_India)
It is this “secular” nature of government that gives every religion in India the liberty to preach, practice, and propogate their teaching using peaceable means. What a blessing!
I believe the words of Jesus when he said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you,” and “you shall be hated by all for My Name’s sake.” The implications are that something in the very essence of the gospel of Christ will inexplicably cause some to hate it and its adherents. I pray that no one on earth, whether Christian or Muslim, or Hindu, or Agnostic, or Atheist, or any other, is ever persecuted because of their beliefs. But if such persecution is inevitable in the case of Christians, provided it is not because of the bad behaviour of those professing to be Christians, so be it; history shows us that such persecution will be ably and patiently borne.