Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom
Emeritus Metropolitan, Mar Thoma Church
What do you think of the BJP now?
I am not close enough to the BJP to be able to give an opinion about them.
But you know what is happening in India through the media?
Yes, I read the newspapers, but I don’t understand what they mean. What they report is not always true. So, it would be wise not to pass comments based on one newspaper report, because what appears in one doesn’t appear in the other.
The BJP is accused of having a fascist face?
I don’t think things have improved under them, but neither am I bold enough to say things have deteriorated.
Do you fear that things may deteriorate?
Recently, Kerala’s finance minister Thomas Isaac released a book, a critique on demonetization titled Kalla-ppana Vetta: Midhyayum Yadharthyavum, which translates as “Hunt for Black Money: Fantasy and Reality.” Having read that book, I am not able to comment what the BJP government has done. At the same time, as I am not a politician or an economist, I am not able to say it is not the right thing to do.
There is a rise in fundamentalism in India; are you afraid of it?
Yes, I am.
As a Christian, how would you respond to it?
I don’t endorse all that the BJP does. At the same time, I also do not want to reject all that they do. I have a feeling that they are not exposed to the full reality of the situation.
What have you to tell the BJP leaders?
I must find out whether they will allow Christians to grow in India. For example, a few years ago a journalist came and asked me for an interview. On the previous day, some BJP leader had said that Christians should go back to Jerusalem, Muslims to Arabia and only Hindus should remain in India. The interviewer asked my comment on that statement. My answer was this: Now you have come to discuss with me how to send me back to Jerusalem. I don’t want to go to Jerusalem. I want to stay in Kerala and so I am not prepared to have a conversation with you. You want to drive me out of India, but I am not willing to leave my motherland. But if you want to discuss how both of us can live together in India, I am prepared to talk to you.
In other words, you dream of an India where everybody lives peacefully together?
Do you think that the BJP is in some way hampering it?
We are Indians. India is not a religion, it is a political area. I want to live here. I will resist any violence you resort to, to drive me out of this country.
How should Christians resist such a movement?
It depends on the kind of situations that arise. I may run away or make others run away, depending on the given situation.
But as a Christian, what attitude should one have?
As a Christian, I don’t believe that I should not fight. In the Bible there are so many descriptions of fights for justice. But I don’t advocate fighting.
Then what do you think I should do?
You make your own decision, because your situation is not my situation. So I cannot say you act this way or that, because we are individually different.
But as a Christian leader, what would you tell the Christian community?
I would say your primary loyalty is to Jesus Christ, who is the creator, sustainer and redeemer of this world. Whenever someone questions your loyalty to Christ, you should resist.
You also agree that we should be loyal to the country, don’t you?
Yes, loyalty should not be only to one’s religion, it should also be to one’s country. You want your country to flourish. You can’t be human if you are not allowed to live in your country.
How should I be a human?
The other man’s existence is something I should value very much. Before I do something, I should consider its human consequences.
Do you think the country will flourish to become a better place for humanity?
Yes, peace, prosperity and well-being of the other should be the primary consideration with me in responding to the other.