The Church of South India’s six dioceses in the state of Kerala have released their first political manifesto in the church’s 69 year history
The Church of South India’s six dioceses in the state of Kerala have released their first political manifesto in the church’s 69 year history, offering a statement of principles for voters in the forthcoming elections. On 15 May 2016 a pastoral letter prepared by the bishops for Kerala’s 1.5 million Anglicans is scheduled to be read from the pulpits across the state the Bishop in Central Kerala and deputy moderator of the CSI, the Rt. Rev. Thomas K. Oommen (pictured) said. The principles were agreed at a meeting of some 300 delegates from the dioceses at the first gathering of the church’s “Political Desk”. The manifesto does not make explicit endorsements of parties, but asks Christians to vote for candidates who support a “balanced justiciable policy.” Bishop Oommen said the CSI supported secularism in government, conservation of nature and ecological resources, development of agriculture, a crackdown on corruption, an end to political violence, a ban on the sale of alcohol, and support for social justice initiatives. “We need people’s representatives who try to understand sincerely social issues from the perspective of the people and function justifiably,” the bishop told The Hindu newspaper. “It is not a policy of equal distance but an informed political decision making process where the stance of the candidate to the issues will be very important,” he said. Since Independence the church had not taken an active role in politics, Bishop Oommen said, but the “time has has come for us to take positions to safeguard our beliefs and protect the institutions we have built up. Those who question or deny them are not acceptable for us,” he said.