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What's common between a Christian Republican voter and a BJP supporter

It could be a naive observation, but I feel there is a parallel between core support group of Republicans in US and BJP in India. From whatever little I have followed: for church-going Christians (not just white, but other races too), they are just focussed on two issues and they will support whoever says the 'right stuff' on these two issues. The two issues are - banning or preventing abortions and same-sex marriage.

Their prism of political world is seen through these issues, and they feel morally outraged that how can someone not support their cause. In doing so, they miss the big picture of what the Bible broadly teaches - that of taking care of the least among us, not judging, sacrificial love and giving, being merciful, non discriminatory and forgiving. Take few examples: the Christians would have voted for Republicans based on these two issues, and when in power, the Republicans try to curb funding that targets the poor but at the same time give tax sops for the rich.

Donald Trump made changes in medical care that will make 13 million people without insurance, and majorly among the poorest. In US - unlike NHS in UK - medical expenses are not provided by the state. This means most poor out of insurance coverage will die early if illness hits them, as they can't afford. At the same time, $ 1.5 trillion of tax cuts were made, and this had absolutely no change on business spending. How can any Bible believing Christians support such a proposal that will most likely kill more people? If you ask them if they changed their support for Trump, most of them would they no.

Now come to India. The core supporters of BJP too have two issues to support the party. They are building the Ram temple in Ayodhya, and a belief that Hindus are in danger and would become a minority soon, if they don't fight for it. Fali Nariman in an interview said this (paraphrasing here): India is a secular country, not because of Muslims or Christians. Muslims and Christians makes up less than 15% of population. It is a secular country because Hindus decided so. More than 80% of population are Hindus, and more than 75% of the constituent assembly were Hindus, and many of them were practicing Hindus.

That's the beauty of Hinduism - it assimilates different strands and there is no central authority to hold it all together, despite the abhorrent practice of caste discrimination. One just have to look at Christianity in China and India  to see how this central aspect of Hinduism engaged with Christian evangelism in India.. The number of Christians in mainland China (according to some estimates) are higher than in India. The main reason I feel is deeply entrenched caste (it is so much, its rare to see even Pastor's kids getting married outside their caste) and regional difference (Malayali, Tamil, North Indian) among Indian Christians, and broadly non opposition to evangelism. In China, there are state prosecution/ opposition and underground churches have proliferated. One sure-shot way to make Christianity grow in India is to persecute them :-)

The second issue is that Hindus are in danger. The fertility rates of Muslims and Hindus are converging, and in less than two or three decades, it will converge. As a result, the population share will stabilise with Muslim's population share not exceeding 20%.

India's cattle population is around 37% of total livestock population, with 65 million households owning them. Just as there was a demand for cow as a meat, there was also an equally economic argument to get rid after it stops being productive. Touching this segment, will not only affect the traders - the unstated aim of the move assuming that Muslims are the the ones doing so - but also the 65 cattle-owning million households. Imaging government removing tax deduction for home loans, will you keep quiet? That's what disrupting the cattle trade has done. And we look for answers why rural demand is sluggish.

Like the Republicans, the core BJP supporter doesn't realise that restrictions on cow trade is hurting Hindus too in rural areas. Given how much milk we consume (we have around 191 million cows as per last Livestock census), economically it is not viable to take care of them after their productive life. Assuming 25% of cattle is non-productive and costs Rs 1,000 to feed and maintain shelters, the ,annual cost is Rs 57,300 crore.

Like a Christian Republican supporter in US, such damaging actions by BJP doesn't change the minds of core BJP supporters. They wouldn't mind invisible Hindus, living in rural areas, losing a significant portion of their income because of disruption in cattle trade, and probably slipping into poverty.

Finally, irrational support to a political party only leads to people moving away from faith. Can anyone show that because of their support to two key issues - abortion and same sex marriage - more people have come to church or have become believers. Rather, the children of church going families are leaving Church. Similarly, irrational support by core BJP supporters will only make people move away from Hinduism, which was doing remarkably well despite many centuries of non-Hindu rule in most parts of India.

I was thankful for 2016 US elections as I could identify many charlatans among Christian preachers who blindly supported Trump. I sincerely hope many of my friends can see the charlatans among politicians who are using religion to grab power. Supporting the charlatans can only harm what they seek to protect. 

Disclaimer: I am not a political or religion expert, and I could be completely wrong in whatever I wrote here.


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