In promoting an international day of solidarity with Dalits, a prominent Indian Christian leader has said the churches must act decisively against the 'abominable sin' of caste discrimination.
Bishop Dr V. Devasahayam, Bishop of the Madras Diocese of Church of South India, himself a Dalit ("untouchable", as the old language had it), first addressed the National Ecumenical Conference on Justice for Dalits in October 2010 in New Delhi.
His message is being reiterated in the build up to solidarity events on 5 December.
He said forthrightly: “The Indian Church is in a sorry state. The Church will fail if it does not weed out caste within and outside. Both cannot go together as Christianity is life giving while casteism is a sin and scandal.
“Christ must save us from the abominable sin of caste,” he added, "[otherwise] the Gospel is rendered powerless.”
Dalit Liberation Sunday has become an annual feature in sensitising the local congregations to be pro-active in addressing the cause of Dalit concerns across India and in many other countries.
Over 300 million people are subject to oppressive caste-based social, economic and cultural systems, defended by the political interests of elites.
A special liturgy for Dalit Liberation Sunday, together with a range of other resources for prayer and reflection, is being made available on the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) website.
The NCCI is the united expression of the Protestant and Orthodox churches in India. "It is a common platform for thought and action by bringing together the Churches and other Christian organisations for mutual consultation, assistance and action in all matters related to life and witness," says the organisation (http://www.nccindia.in/ ).
More on Dalit Liberation Sunday: http://www.nccindia.in/news/events/o_166.htm