The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies has demanded an apology and a retraction of statements made by an MP during a debate in the Indian Parliament which accused murdered missionary Graham Staines of child abuse. The Archbishop called the statement “slanderous”.
Graham Staines was an Australian missionary who worked with leprosy patients in India for several years. In 1999, Mr Staines and his two sons (Timothy aged 6 and Philip aged 10), were burned to death by members of the Hindu fundamentalist group Bajrang Dal in tribal Uttar Pradesh.
During the Parliamentary debate in September a member of the ruling BJP party and a representative of Uttar Pradesh, Satya Pal Singh, accused Mr Staines and other Christians of molesting 30 girls belonging to local tribes in Odisha and converting them to Christianity.
He made the accusation calling it the main reason for the murders of Graham Staines and his sons. He further justified heavy-handed amendments to the law on the basis that ‘forced conversions’ are still being perpetrated by Christian missionaries.
Archbishop Glenn Davies has called the comments ‘reprehensible’.
“The murder of Graham Staines and his sons was a stain on the history of India. The then President K.R. Narayanan was right to describe it as ‘a monumental aberration of time-tested tolerance and harmony’ and that the murders belonged to ‘the world’s inventory of black deeds’. For the MP to now use parliamentary privilege to bring such baseless accusations for political purposes deserves the strongest condemnation. A retraction and full apology should be issued for the sake of truth and as a bulwark against religious intolerance,” he said.
The Archbishop also mentioned that many Anglicans from Sydney had travelled to India in recent years and were welcomed, along with the help they brought to the population.
“I would like to think that the Government and others from Mr Singh’s party would not sit idly by while such comments are made. They should be repudiated in the strongest possible terms,” he added.
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