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Christianity in South and Central Asia$
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Kenneth R. Ross, Daniel Jeyaraj, and Todd M. Johnson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474439824

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474439824.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 26 June 2022

Caste and Christianity in India

Caste and Christianity in India

(p.408) Caste and Christianity in India
Christianity in South and Central Asia

Anderson Jeremiah

Edinburgh University Press

The Indian practice of the caste system creates a repressive stratification in the subcontinent. Hinduism refers to a variety of theologies, mythologies, cultic practices and philosophies spread across India. The exclusion of outcastes is ordained, pursued and perpetuated by dominant religio-political and socio-cultural forces, often with violent consequences. While the constitution prohibits any discrimination on grounds of caste, the social practice of caste identity continues to be relevant across the country. Because the caste system is the product of a religious worldview, it is through religious rituals that caste discrimination and prejudices are manifested. Mission organisations agreed to work within specific caste communities in order to avoid conflict. The caste-based segregation masquerading as denominationalism runs so deep within the churches in India that there are congregations who do not share the Eucharist. Only 12 out of 241 bishops are from a Dalit background, whereas Dalits make up more than 65% of the membership of Catholic congregations. Dalit groups have had to mobilise to counter the unfair advantages enjoyed by higher-caste groups. The caste system has become a potent political tool within Indian society and its relevance in shaping socio-cultural moorings have not diminished.

Keywords:   Christianity, Caste, Dalits, Discrimination, Stratification, India

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