Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Beyond Four-Walled Campuses: Models of Ecumenical Theological Education in Interfaith Issues in India

Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Beyond Four-Walled Campuses: Models of Ecumenical Theological Education in Interfaith Issues in India

Article excerpt

Abstract

This article examines the relevancy of three education system models--professional or university, banking or teacher-centred, and campus or residential--from an inter-religious perspective. These models are no longer adequate ill a multi-religious context and a shift is imperative. We need to evolve a model of education "together with people", which includes all sections of the society--rich and poor, young and old, Christians and non-Christians. An inclusive curriculum that affirms plurality/diversity and the common good is urgently needed. This must take place within the larger academic world. A theological education in interaction with the secular learning process will contribute to reinforcing moral and ethical values in society for the common good.

Orissa 2008

This article is written at a time when Christian communities in Orissa have been going through severe traumatic experiences and persecution. Following the brutal killing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Swami Lakshanananda Saraswati along with four other associates on 23 August 2008 inside his ashram at Jalespatta, Christians in Orissa have been persecuted in the cruellest manner for several months. Sporadic killings, violent attacks and ransacking of houses and worship places continue till today. The Maoists claimed the responsibility for killing Swami Lakshanananda. Considering earlier warnings, planning, execution and the use of sophisticated weapons, the police also concluded that the Maoists gunned down Swami. But Hindu fundamentalist groups blamed Christians and alleged they were responsible for the killing and went ahead with violent attacks on Christians.

Several churches and prayer halls were torched, more than 400 churches and prayer houses have been ransacked, the Bible and religious articles burnt. It is said that 4009 homes were burnt down at the time of writing this article. Many people have lost their property completely. Several educational institutions and Christian shops were damaged, ransacked and emptied. Many orphanages, homes and institutions managed by Christians have been targeted on the suspicion of conversion. More than 2000 trees were felled to block roads across the region to prevent Christians from escaping. Many were stranded and could not escape. Many people, especially children, women and persons with disabilities, were burnt alive. Many people died of indiscriminate gun shots. An unofficial report gave an estimate of about 150 deaths. Mothers, daughters and nuns were molested and raped in front of police personnel.

It is reported that for several days medical aid and assistance were denied and relief workers were not permitted into the area for security reasons. Still more than 12,000 people are in refugee camps. It is also reported that there were attempts to poison drinking water sources in relief camps. In some relief camps supply materials were taken away by force. Though the Indian government has assured protection, violent attacks still continue and people are scared of returning home. About 40,000 Christians are still hiding in the forest without adequate food and water. Hindus are pressuring Christians to "reconvert" to Hinduism, if they want to return to their homes and villages. For the sake of security and life, many people have reconverted to Hinduism.

While this article was still yet to be completed, the terror attacks in Mumbai dominated the media. The terrorists targeted hotels, railways and hospital. The multiple terrorist attacks in Mumbai claimed 195 lives and more than 300 people were injured. Terrorist attacks are on the increase everywhere. All these are done in the name of religion. Religion that should give solace to the suffering masses has itself been turned into the cause of suffering of many.

Many fundamentalist and revivalist religious groups are involved in aggressive evangelism for their respective religions. They use militant and exclusive language. …

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