Church Council Decries Mohan Bhagwat Lynching Slur, Bible Misinterpretation

The National Council of Churches in India has asked Bhagwat and other political leaders to "condemn such heinous acts and irresponsible public statements so that peace and communal harmony can be maintained".

New Delhi: More criticism is pouring in for  Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat’s speech at the recent Vijayadashmi function in Nagpur, the latest being the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), which has slammed the RSS supremo of misinterpreting the Bible with regard to the word lynching.

Addressing the RSS anniversary function at Reshimbagh ground, Bhagwat had said that lynching is a “western construct”; that the word arises from an incident recorded in the Bible where Jesus Christ told people to hit a woman with stones if and only they had never committed any sin themselves. Bhagwat said the word should not be used in the Indian context to defame the country.

The RSS chief had said:

“There is an old story in a religious text prepared outside. There is no connection of that religion with this but there is an incident in which a village was preparing to stone a woman. Jesus Christ reached there and said, ‘you are stoning her because she is a sinner. Then make sure that the first stone is thrown by the person who has not sinned’. Then everyone realised their mistake.”

“Where is this incident from? Those places have a word for such incidents.”

In a statement, the NCCI on Thursday said: “We are shocked that such statements which have the potential to divide communities on religious lines are made in public fora. This misrepresentation has created suspicion among the people and has humiliated the Christian minority. We appeal to all people not to be carried away by such misrepresentation…”

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“The National Council of Churches in India condemns the misquoting of the Bible by Mohan Bhagwat, the Sarsanghchalak of RSS, to justify the term mob lynching,” said Asir Ebenezer, NCCI general secretary, in a statement.

NCCI’s statement added: “The Biblical incident that the sarsanghchalak mentioned in fact exposes how Jesus stood by a woman who was a victim of patriarchal structures of that time.”

“It is a known fact that almost all mob lynching incidents target the vulnerable communities in India, including the religious minorities, Dalits, Adivasis, the economically poor and women. Therefore, NCCI request the highest government officials and political leaders of national and state governments as well as leaders of all political parties to condemn such heinous acts and irresponsible public statements so that peace and communal harmony can be maintained in this country,” it added.

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Reacting sharply to Bhagwat’s statement, AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi said Muslims, Dalits and even Hindus have been victims of incidents of mob lynching in the country. “Are these incidents not mob lynching?” he asked.

The Hyderabad MP said perpetrators of mob lynching were “sons” of Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi. Referring to the 2002 Gujarat riots, Owaisi said they were also examples of mob lynching and occurred when Narendra Modi was chief minister of the state.