The Student Christian Movement of India, invited by the World Council of Churches to prepare materials for the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, focused on the continuing struggle for human dignity by India’s Dalit population.
Traditionally celebrated Jan. 18-25 in the Northern Hemisphere or at Pentecost in the Southern Hemisphere, the Week of Prayer enters into congregations and parishes all over the world. The resources appear under the title “What Does God Require of Us?” (which draws from Micah 6:6- 8). A 46-page PDF is available from the WCC.
The material reports: “The Dalit communities are considered to be the most polluted and polluting and thus placed outside the caste system and were previously even called ‘untouchable.’ Because of casteism the Dalits are socially marginalized, politically under-represented, economically exploited and culturally subjugated. Almost 80 percent of Indian Christians have a Dalit background.
“…Casteism, like apartheid, racism and nationalism poses severe challenges for the unity of Christians in India and therefore, for the moral and ecclesial witness of the Church as the one body of Christ. As a church-dividing issue, casteism is consequently an acute doctrinal issue.”
Photo: Dalit woman in Bombay, 1942, via Wikimedia Commons