As mainline churches in India prepare for dialogue with Hindu groups, some Christian organizations have warned of the risks of holding talks with "fanatical outfits."

The All India Christian Council (AICC), a forum of lay Christian leaders, warned of the grave risks of dialogue with fundamentalists, pointing out on March 31 that these groups had created "a climate of hate and violence against Indian Christians by spreading the lie of the 'Videshi [foreign] church.'" The AICC was referring to Hindu fundamentalist claims that the Catholic Church here is merely an arm of the Vatican, and to Hindu proposals that Indian churches cut all ties with churches and agencies abroad.

Another Christian organization, the All India United Christian Voice, based in Bangalore, in southern India, declared on April 1 that "there should be no dialogue with the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh—National Volunteer Corps] or any fundamentalist outfit which is intolerant or fascist in nature."

However, the nation's main inter-church organization, the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), has decided to respond "positively" to a proposal for dialogue between Christians and Hindu groups to ease tensions and remove misunderstandings following widespread propaganda against Christianity and a series of attacks on Christians carried out by Hindu fundamentalists.

At the same time, a Catholic archbishop has pointed out that the fundamentalists do not represent mainstream Hindus in India, where about 82 percent of the population of 1 billion are Hindu.

The NCCI response came after the autonomous National Commission for Minorities (NCM) held a two-hour meeting in New Delhi on 26 March between the NCM members and 40 church representatives attending an executive ...

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