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Indian Christians Encouraged by Obama’s ‘Hard Talk’ Supporting Religious Liberty


ANTO AKKARA

Source:
Nat. Cath. Register
Type:
Media/Opinion
Date:
1/27/2015

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ABSTRACTIndian Christians Encouraged by Obama’s ‘Hard Talk’ Supporting Religious Liberty | Daily News | NCRegister.com Print Edition:  Jan. 25, 2015 Sign-up for our E-letter!   Donate News Blogs Radio Events Resources Advertise Store Subscriptions Make This My Homepage Resources Archives Jobs College Guide Arts & Entertainment Books Commentary Culture of Life Education In Person News Opinion Sunday Guides Travel Vatican Dan Burke Jeanette DeMelo Edward Pentin Mark Shea Matthew Warner Jimmy Akin Matt & Pat Archbold Joan Frawley Desmond Simcha Fisher Tito Edwards Jennifer Fulwiler Steven D. Greydanus Tom Wehner Our Latest Show About the Show About the Register Donate Subscribe Stations Schedule Other EWTN Shows Advertising Overview Policies & Guidelines Digital Ad Specs Print Ad Specs Editorial Calendar & Due Dates Order Web Ad Subscribe Discounted Bulk Subscriptions Give a Gift Subscription Renew Your Subscription Renew Your Gift Subscription Change of Address Missed Issues Payments Account Status General Customer Service Print Article | Email Article | Write To Us Daily News Daily News Indian Christians Encouraged by Obama’s ‘Hard Talk’ Supporting Religious Liberty (572) As the end of his three-day visit, the U.S. president advised India’s Hindu nationalist rulers that ‘upholding freedom of religion is the utmost responsibility of the government.’ Tweet by ANTO AKKARA 01/27/2015 Comments (3) President Barack Obama participates in a traditional greeting with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Jan. 25. – Official White House Photo by Pete Souza NEW DELHI — Christians took comfort this week from some unexpected “hard talk” in support of religious freedom delivered by visiting U.S. President Barack Obama. The Obama’s remarks came two days after Indian President Pranab Mukherjee’s similar remarks, delivered to mark India’s Jan. 26 Republic Day celebration, at which Obama was this year’s chief guest. And to many Christians, both speeches seemed to be directly addressed to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling BJP party. “Religion is a force for unity; we cannot make it a cause of conflict,” Mukherjee said in his customary address to the nation on the eve of Republic Day. Mukherjee was quoting Mahatma Gandhi, who is known as “Father of the Nation” of the country that became a republic on Jan. 26, 1950. In an apparent endorsement of Mukherjee’s remarks, President Obama said in his concluding Jan. 27 “town hall” address in New Delhi, “We remember the wisdom of Gandhi, who said that ‘the different religions are beautiful flowers in the same garden.’ They are branches of the same majestic tree.” “Every person has a right to practice the faith that they choose and to practice no faith at all — and to do so free of persecution, fear or discrimination,” declared Obama. The U.S. president even quoted the Indian constitution on religious freedom, reminding more than 1,800 special invitees, including many youth, “Your [Constitution] Article 25 says all people are equally entitled to the freedom of conscience and have right to freely profess and practice and propagate religion.” Asserting that “upholding freedom of religion is the utmost responsibility of the government,” Obama pointed out, “We see violence and terror perpetuated by those who profess to be standing up for upholding their faith but in fact [are] betraying them.” Calling for the international community to “guard against any efforts to divide us on sectarian lines or any other thing,” Obama cautioned that “India will succeed so long as it is not splintered along lines of religious faith.”   ‘A Happy Coincidence’ “We are very happy that the U.S. president has spoken out clearly on the issue of religious freedom,” said Archbishop Albert D’Souza of Agra, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI). “It is indeed a happy coincidence that both the U.S. and Indian presidents have made these statements when unpleasant things are happening on the religious-freedom front in the country,” Archbishop D’Souza told the Register. “The [Indian] president, with his Republic Day message, has made it clear to the government what it should do,” said Archbishop D’Souza. “We want the prime minister to act before things get worse.” In his Republic Day remarks, Mukherjee — whose presidential office is a largely ceremonial post under the nation’s parliamentary system of government that vests governmental power instead with the prime minister — stated, “Wisdom of India teaches us: Unity is strength; dominance is weakness. … We.......