When a religious leader uses a religious event or platform to spew venom of hatred against another religion, it is definite that he is causing more damage to his own religion than the one he is targeting. The onus of first protesting against such acts also lies on his own people to stand up against their religious leaders for spreading hate and communalism.

In one such incident that took place in Kerala recently at a Christian religious congregation in Kottayam, instead of preaching the Biblical messages of peace and harmonious co-existence, a Bishop tried to misuse the platform and sow the seeds of hatred. The Bishop asked the congregation attendees, to not transact any businesses business with people of communities that don’t have anything to do with the Bible and not to eat in hotels run by them.

In most probabilities, such speeches are made by political leaders of the Sangh Parivar under the banner of ‘Hindu Community Festivals’ (Hindu Samajotsav.) Such meetings don’t officially represent any particular sect of spirituality. As this is known by all including participants and those on the stage, nobody takes such meetings seriously as the meetings are organized with some political motive.

But the Bishop at Kuravilangad misused the religious meeting for political gains and insulted the virtues of Christianity. Christian nuns who were on the dais protested this and walked out of the meeting. With this, they conveyed the message to the followers of the Christ that the religious leader’s speech had nothing to do with Christianity. By walking out, they also upheld the values and dignity of the Bible and Jesus. This incident was in continuation of another Bishop’s recent tirade against what he had termed ‘Narcotics Jihad’. But the nuns with their maturity and wisdom have sent out the right message to all concerned.

The Bishop’s statement about ‘Narcotics Jihad’ was condemned by several Christian priests who also stated that the statement was prejudiced. Perhaps, the Bishop made the statement to distract from several allegations of sexual harassment of nuns in the recent past across Kerala, or a few political forces might have made him issue such statements. We need to now recognize that voices of protest has come from within the Christian community in Kerala and consider it as model.

Today, not only our country but the entire world is the victim of drugs menace. It is a problem that has affected the youth of the entire country. Several states including Punjab are fighting against drug menace. There is no need to explain Islam’s stand on narcotics and all other kind of intoxicants. Leaders of all religions are speaking against drugs. The political motive behind the statement that drugs are being used for a specific purpose and by a specific religion is very clear. There is no need to take such statements seriously. But the stand taken by the nuns and a few Christian leaders should become a model for all of us.

Religious forums are meant to teach people good conduct, love, and tolerance. Political forces are always looking for opportunities to misuse such forums. Such elements and forums are found in every religion. Followers of all religions accept the messages given out in religious events at Churches, Mosques, and temples with a lot of passion and emotions. If a person who identifies himself as a religious leader utters wrong words in such a religious forum, it will adversely affect harmony and cohesion in society. And the religion that such leaders represent pays a heavy price for this. Therefore, Muslim leaders should either stop or walk out of a platform where a person who must spread Islam’s messages and principles is misusing the platform to make hate speech against another religion. Staying on, even after hearing to such speeches and hate campaigns, only mean they are endorsing it indirectly. When incidents of political forces trying to misuse religious forums are increasing these days, religious leaders should have the courage to oppose such attempts. The number of religious leaders who can loudly convey that religions exist to preach love and not hate should increase in all religions.

When Hinduism was beset by several superstitions and obscurant practices, leaders such as Swami Vivekananda, Narayana Guru, and Mahatma Gandhi fought against them. But today, in Hindu spiritual forums, the voices of political leaders are being heard more than that of seers and spiritual gurus. Though several Hindu religious leaders are speaking against this, their voice has remained feeble, whereas political leaders are succeeding in using religious events to divide society.

This is harming the Hindu dharma that Vivekananda, Narayana Guru, Swami Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, and others have upheld. If leaders who were seen in porn videos use religious platforms to give speeches about culture, then the loss is for the respective religion. Similarly, when the words of senior religious scholars of Islam are heard out loud in the world will the words of extremist organisations like ISIS be silenced. As attempts of political forces to misuse Islam affects Islam the most, it is left to the leaders of that religion to oppose all such political designs. Only when scholars and spiritual leaders in all religions realize this, can all religions exist in an atmosphere of mutual love, trust, and harmony.

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Los Angeles, Sep 24: Hollywood star John Cusack on Saturday extended his support to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra and said he stands in solidarity with "anti-fascists everywhere".

Cusack, the star of blockbusters such as "Serendipity", "High Fidelity", "Con Air" and "2012", has been vocal about various global issues on social media.

Taking to Twitter, the 56-year-old actor wrote, "Indian parliament member Rahul Gandhi is walking to Kashmir - from Kerala."

After a user thanked Cusack for supporting Gandhi's campaign, the actor said, "Yes - solidarity - to all anti fascists everywhere!"

The actor had earlier extended support to the farmers' protests against three farm laws and to the students protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

The Congress' Bharat Jodo Yatra will cover 3,570 km in 150 days. It started from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu on September 7 and will conclude in Jammu and Kashmir.

The yatra, which entered Kerala on the evening of September 10, will go through the state covering 450 km, touching seven districts in 19 days before entering Karnataka on October 1.