Discrimination against the Dalit people of India is real, often times violent, and as troublesome as the Apartheid system in old South Africa. I saw this firsthand when visiting South India in 2003 as part of a group from Eden Theological Seminary. Sadly, most people across the globe are unaware of this human rights crisis The World Council of Churches reports on an upcoming conference to address the moral issues involved:
At a conference of church leaders being convened by the National Council of Churches in India in partnership with the World Council of Churches in New Delhi from 22-24 October 2010, the sin and scandal of caste discrimination right within the church will be the main topics of discussion.
Organized as a follow up to the Global Conference on Justice for Dalits in Bangkok in March 2009, the Delhi conference is expected to call on the churches to end caste discrimination in the churches and the society and to be in solidarity with the Dalits in their struggles for dignity, justice and life and for a new social order that is free of caste.
About 100 leaders from churches, ecumenical organizations and Dalit initiatives are expected to participate in this event.
A new publication, Dalit Theology in the Twenty First Century: Discordant Voices, Discerning Pathways, edited by Sathianathan Clarke, Deenabandhu Manchala and Philip Peacock and jointly published by the World Council of Churches and Oxford University Press (New Delhi) will be presented at the conference.
I was very fortunate during my 2003 trip to make friends with The Rev. Raj Bharath Patta, then a student at Gurukul Lutheran Theological College and now the Executive Secretary of the National Council of Churches in Inida's Commission on Dalits. You can read more about the upcoming conference on their website.
Sunday, December 5th is being recognized this year by churches in India as "Dalit Liberation Sunday." Please consider marking the day with a special prayer in your church.