The Christians of Pakistan: The Passion of Bishop John Joseph
Taylor & Francis
, 2003 - Religion
- 261 pages
This is the story of the Christians of Pakistan, with the first native Pakistani Bishop at its centrepiece. Bishop John Joseph was a charismatic community leader well known for his opposition to discriminatory laws and his support of economic and social development work. In May 1998 he shot himself in front of the courthouse where a Christian had been sentenced to death for blasphemy, for allegedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad.
This book is an account of outcastes who sought hope through Christianity, but who now find themselves victims of a struggle to define Islam in Pakistan. It traces the origins and founding myths of the Pakistani Christians from the conversion of mostly untouchable sweepers, their consolidation as a community, and the growth of the Catholic Church in Pakistan to their trials during the Islamization programme of the 1980s and 1990s, including the dispute over the blasphemy laws that led to the Bishop's death.
Walbridge examines a broad range of issues such as enculturation in the Pakistani Church, the rise of indigenous clergy, conflicts between the local churches and Rome, the role of caste and class, the mutual influence of Islam and Christianity, the rise of fundamentalist' Islam, the position of women in society and the church, and the ethical and practical dilemmas of development and human rights for an oppressed community. The book ends with a discussion of the ethical and political issues involved in the Bishop's protest suicide.
This book will be of interest to students and academics in anthropology, religious studies and South Asian studies, as well as the general reader with an interest in Christianity in developing countries, in liberation theology, and religions enculturation.