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Politicization of religion and vice versa threatens Asian harmony

Politicization of religion and vice versa threatens Asian harmony

CCA General Secretary Dr. Mathews George Chunakara delivers Thomas Mar Athanasius Memorial Lecture. Photo: CCA

05 December 2018

Under the topic Politicization of Religion and Religionization of Politics in Asia, the Christian Conference of Asias (CCA) general secretary Dr Mathews George Chunakara shared serious concerns about emerging trends where religions are used for political power gains and vice versa.

The occasion was the 32nd Thomas Mar Athanasius Suffragan Metropolitan Memorial Lecture, held in Kottayam on 24 November in the southern Indian state of Kerala, where a large number of specially invited guests and others gathered at this public event to hear Chunakara, who elaborated on the current trends in religion and politics in Asia.

Chunakara was clear in his conclusions about the current development where religion and politics are being intertwined and mutually exploited to promote special interests:

As the increasing trend of religion assumes major roles in civil and political affairs, politicisation of religion and religionization of politics have become a pervasive social phenomenon in Asia today. Religion becomes a dividing force which creates not only a religious rift, but also a threat to communal and social harmony in several Asian countries once known for their tolerance and liberal human values,he explained.

His speech addressed a number of specific aspects, such as the use of religious identities to attract votes in political elections and attempts by certain religious groups to devise and carve roles for themselves in politics to gain preferential treatment and favours from the ruling elites.

Today, political parties and leaders are eager to grab positions for themselves and portray themselves as true champions of faith and customs of religious traditions. Asia, the most populous as well as religious region in the world,faces punitive forms of religious activism, which leads to dangerous practices of spreading religious hatred and violent extremism even in traditionally tolerant countries, Chunakara warned.

He quoted a favourite ancient adage that Religion is like a candle, it can also set fire; the choice is one´s own what use is made of it, to alert the audience about the risks of misuse of faiths for political gains.

I sincerely hope that the adherents of all religions in Asia will use the candle to spread more light in darkness, rather than to set fire, Chunakara concluded.

Christian Council of Asia