Prayer Alert: Persecutions Against Christians Spreading In India
Posted by Job on October 1, 2008
India is the largest democracy in the world and has the second largest population, an estimated 1.1 billion.
But there is a growing and alarming trend – violence against Christians who have a constitutional right to religious freedom and to witness.
The persecution of Christians by Hindu extremists, particularly in the state of Orissa, has increased in the last month and a half.
While the state government says 24 people, mostly Christians, have died in the Orissa violence, the All India Christian Council (AICC) maintains that 45 Christians are confirmed dead and five more are still missing as of Sept. 24.
According to the AICC, 14 districts of Orissa witnessed violence with Kandhamal as the epicenter. It reported at least 50,000 people from 300 villages have been affected by the violence, with hundreds still hiding in forests, and 4,000 houses and 115 churches burned or destroyed. Another source reports 20,000 people have been displaced, most of them huddled into squalid refugee camps. In one village in Orissa, Christians heard the Hindu zealots as they prepared to go to bed. The marauders, wielding machetes, burned down homes and churches in the village. Reuters reported one survivor as saying “We could hear them shouting ‘Jai Shri Ram,’” referring to the rally cry of Hindus hailing their warrior-god.
The violence began following the assassination of a Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader and icon of Hindu nationalism, Laxmanananda Saraswati, and four of his disciples in Kandhamal district on Aug. 23. Although Maoists claimed responsibility for the murder, the VHP put the blame on local Christians, saying they killed him because he was resisting conversion of Hindus to Christianity. The attacks in India have been condemned by Pope Benedict and Roman Catholic bishops have urged the European Union to treat persecution of Christians as a humanitarian emergency.
The violence is driven by rising anger by Hindu extremists over Christian conversions and the growth of Christianity. Hindus charge that the conversions are forced on poor Indians by Christian missionaries. Eight states in India have passed anti-conversion laws.
The violence in Orissa comes at a time when many Indians feel that Hindu fundamentalism is on the rise. The extremists’ goal is making India a Hindu nation, rather than a secular one.
Given the ongoing violence against Christians and the lack of an adequate and decisive response of the authorities to protect the Christians, Open Doors is holding the Indian government accountable, even though the government recently criticized the state governments of Orissa and Karnataka over their failure to control violence by radical Hindu groups. Open Doors is urging the government to do its utmost to restore peace and stability in the region. Open Doors is also asking supporters to join in a advocacy campaign to help the thousands of suffering Christians in Orissa.
Open Doors is asking supporters to Email the Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Ronen Sen to ask him to provide adequate protection for Christians in Orissa and to ensure justice and compensation to the victims of the violent attacks. You can send an email to Indian Ambassador Sen by going to http://www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.
Let me tell you one story of hope in all the violence. As the marauding crowd descended on a village, Minaki, who was expecting a baby at any time, ran for her life to the shelter of the forest. Famished and exhausted, she managed to keep hidden. The baby was born on the third day of her stay in the forest, in the cool of the night. Minaki named the baby Lily because she is a “Lily of the forest.”
In addition to sending an Email to the ambassador, please join me in prayer for Lily and all the Christians who are being marginalized in Orissa and other states in India.
Dr. Carl Moeller is the President/CEO of Open Doors USA.