PETALING JAYA: The Council of Churches (CCM) has taken PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang to task over his remark that Christianity was a religion which practises a “caste” system.
Its secretary-general Hermen Shastri said Hadi’s remark was a gross misrepresentation.
He said that “caste” was not integral to Christian doctrine and practice and pastors were not considered “sacred” and above reproof.
“Pastors are called upon to perform holy duties on behalf of the people of God and live holy lives.
“If priests or pastors become political leaders, they cannot continue to perform their religious duties,” he told FMT.
The group took exception to the recent remarks made by Hadi, as reported by Harakah Daily, where he said that while Islam had eradicated caste, other religions such as Hinduism and Christianity had castes, with the priests regarded as sacred.
Shastri urged Hadi to retract his remarks which were unwarranted and bigoted.
He said if such remarks were left unchecked, it would hurt the religious feelings of Christians and affect harmonious interfaith relationships in the country.
The Malaysia Hindu Sangam (MHS) also urged Hadi not to raise such issues as it could give rise to confusion.
MHS president RS Mohan Shan said that although what Hadi said about the caste system in Hinduism was true, it was no longer practised in Malaysia and India.
“The requirement that priests should be from the top of the caste system is no longer happening nowadays.
“Now, anyone who studies Hinduism can become a priest at a temple.
“I am advising Hadi not to do this (make the remarks). Why should he confuse our Hindu community in the country?” he said, adding that it was not a healthy statement to make in a multiracial country like Malaysia.
He said PAS was free to do whatever it wanted but it should not make an issue of the caste system.
“Although we may not get irritated by this, we are not sure how others may view it,” he said.
Earlier today, Hadi had issued a statement to clarify reports which quoted him as saying that a PAS government would implement a “two-cabinet” system, which would exclude non-Muslims from being policymakers.
Hadi said his proposal was not an attempt to introduce a “religious caste” system, which he claimed existed among Hindus and Christians.