Dalit Christians

Dalit Christians form a vast majority of the Christian body within India—a whopping 20 million out of about 25 million Christians total. Yet they still comprise a relatively small number of the clergy and church administrative officials.

It also happens that in some churches, upper caste and lower caste Christians must sit in different parts of the church, much as Blacks and Whites in the United States used to be segregated up through mid-20th century.

Because of the tendency within St Thomas Christians to identify themselves as Brahmin lineage, it has largely been the much-maligned Western missionaries who reached out to the Dalit community with the hope found in Jesus Christ.

Discrimination Against Dalits

Yet even after conversion to Christianity, Dalit people still suffer from gross discrimination. Sometimes their condition is even worsened after conversion. Not only do they suffer for being Dalits, they also face discrimination based on religion.

Veerambal...Neerukonda Saukarankularn...Villupuram... Karamchedu...Chundur... Kodiangulam... These are all villages of Dalit victims of rape, burning and/or slaughter in which the villages had a Christian majority.

And while there are those who claim the inevitability of this carryover of caste bias and superiority and inferiority into the Christian faith (as it has so many others), this must not be.

Imaginary Christianity

For this caste discrimination to carry on in blatant contradiction of the teachings of Jesus Christ indicates either the faith has yet to be comprehended by those claiming it...or that their claim to be a Christian is largely imaginary.

In Him the distinctions between Jew and Gentile, slave and free man, male and female, disappear; you are all one in Christ Jesus. –Galatians 3:28

One could just as easily state it: “In Him the distinctions between Brahman and Dalit disappear; you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Remember: Jesus reached out and touched the untouchable when He healed the leper and when He acknowledged and welcomed the faith touch of the woman with the issue of blood. Jesus criticized the proud priest and praised the despised Samaritan who gave of himself to help the man who’d been robbed (Luke 10:25-37).

And still our Christian brothers and sisters will walk by on the other side of the road, like the priest and Levite in that parable, refusing to see or minister to the wounds of the Dalit—even the Dalit Christians. But what place does hatred or pride have in the heart of a Christian, who should be transformed by Jesus...and not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world (see Romans 12:2)?

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