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Christians encouraged to give more attention to Hindus

07 November 2014

iSTOCK

THE 950 million Hindus in the world, including the 900,000 who live in Britain, deserve more attention from Christians, the organiser of a conference bringing the two faiths together said on Monday.

"Hindus are the third largest religion in the world and need to be taken very seriously," said Canon Andrew Wingate, who organised the four-day conference in Birmingham last week. Canon Wingate taught in a seminary in south India before establishing the St Philip's Centre in Leicester to promote interfaith relations.

"This religion has maintained the fabric of India for 5000 years, and there must be something very powerful in it. How do we, as Christians, both appreciate this culture and the faithfulness of Hindus? And, at the same time, how do we not be apologetic about our own witness as Christians?"

These were two of the questions explored by the conference, organised by the Network for Interfaith Concerns in the Anglican Communion (NIFCON). About 40 participants discussed issues such as evangelism, caste, conversion, fundamentalism, and idolatry.

Canon Wingate suggested on Tuesday that "Christians are not very confident in relating to Hindus," but noted that, in the 19th century, Hindus had been an "enormous focus" of the missionary movement, which "thought they would be easy to make Christians".

Among some Christians and Muslims, there was concern about the appointment of the new Indian Prime Minister, Narenda Modi (News, 23 May), whose ideological roots are in Hindutva, which is often taken to mean that to be Indian is to be Hindu. There was positive collaboration at a grassroots level in the UK, he said. "Go and see; ask to visit a temple, or a festival; begin in simple ways."

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