Church leaders back secular parties in India’s elections

The Moderator of the Church of South India has endorsed a joint pastoral letter with the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Hyderabad calling upon Christians in Andhra Pradesh not to cast their votes in support of sectarian political parties in the forthcoming elections for the state assembly and India’s federal parliament, the Lok Sabha. In a letter read in the states’ churches on 13 April 2013, Bishop Govada Dyvasirvadam and Archbishop Thumma Bala asked Christians to “elect leaders who are close to people and their needs, and only vote for those who uphold secular character and promote communal harmony.” Bishop Dyvasirvadam told the Times of India he had taken the unprecedented step of offering political advice to protect Christians. “We are worried about the communal carnage that happened in Kandhamal, Orrisa and what is happening now. There could be a repeat in the state, if the voters do not take an anti-communal stand. We need a strong government to protect us,” Bishop Dyvasirvadam said.

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