~ L. Lima Jamir
I want to reaffirm what Dr. Imtisangba Longchar said, “A church that does not speak out against an unjust system is not a true church.” Naga church does not consider the social problem a theological issue but rather an issue of individual sin. The corporate or structural sin is hardly recognized. Naga church theology is still confined to personal moral uprightness and failed to address the structural sin in the socio-political arena. As a result, people are reluctant to fight against corruption in the election system. Some people think that the church’s responsibility is soul winning alone and should not involve in the clean election campaign. This wrong theology is an obstacle to the collective resistance justice movement against injustice for social transformation.
Since the missionary era, the church did involve in social issues. For example, missionaries were the first to fight for the abolishment of slavery, eradication of inhumane practices of headhunting, and improving the civic and moral life of the people. They were also the first to open schools, hospitals, literature and many others. They were the first to work for the emancipation of women. However, the evangelical theology of individual salvation that emphasizes better life beyond this world and the imminent return of Christ-natured individualism failed to give a sense of social responsibility as a theological issue and therefore did not struggle for social transformation.
Even today, the church emphasized personal purity and uprightness at the individual levels. Worshipers flood churches; there are singing and praying everywhere. But their theological inadequacy prevented them from seeing beyond individual life. The church theology was/is not deeply rooted in social relations. The revivals and conversion were emotional outbursts that hindered social and moral health. Theology could not relate to the undercurrent social problem of corruption, poverty, militarism, suppression of rights, and lack of economic development. Naga churches’ involvement in social issues is more situational or issue-based than theological imperative. This is the crux of the problem in Naga church today.
In the context of institutionalized and structural social evils, the Naga society is under the grip of social injustice, corruption, bribery, exploitation, and economic dependency. People are also living in insecure conditions with the raising of gun culture. Besides, the educated unemployed youngster is rising while the gap between the rich and poor, powerful and powerless, is widening daily. Election means money and muscle power. Where is democracy? Can the church remain silent?
In such a context, the church must involve in the social sphere such as ‘Clean Election’. ‘Clean Election’ is related to the common concern of citizens. Christians are a citizen of two worlds – this world and the eternal world and they are inseparably interrelated. Social justice and individual salvation are also interrelated. Since the election affects every system of our existence, the church must confront social evil on all fronts by organizing mass movements and conscientizing people. This is the legitimate right of citizens and followers of Christ who confronted evil forces that led to the Cross. The church alone cannot bring change. The church must extend its cooperation to like-minded civil societies fighting to eradicate corruption in public life. The church’s fight with civil societies on the clean election is not for personal benefits but the whole Naga society. It is impossible to eradicate all the election menace at once, we must commit to doing something for a better Naga future.