Things have not changed much since 2008, especially when Sunday after Sunday, Indian Christians in certain parts of India are beaten and arrested.
A lot of this violence is sourced from the belief that Christians are converting people to Christianity. It is crucial to note that Christians are a 2% population in India among the 80% and around 16% Muslims, among Sikhs, Buddhists, atheists, and others. In fact, it would be pertinent to note that atheism is growing in India
It is said that approximately 2.9 million people in India did not state their religion in the 2001 census and were counted in the “religion not stated”. They were 0.24% of India’s population. Their number has significantly increased 4 times from 0.7 million in the 2001 census at an average annual rate of 15%.
However, the attacks on Christians in India are surging. In a recent incident, retired bureaucrats cautioned PM Narendra Modi against rising attacks on Christians. In the letter, the 93 signatories have recalled the custody death of Jesuit priest Stanislaus Lourduswamy, and have mentioned the judicial appointment of a person “spewing hatred against Christians”.
It was interesting, however, that on Easter, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Sacred Heart Cathedral Catholic Church in Delhi, lit a candle, and offered prayers. Speaking on PM Modi’s visit, Bishop Anil Khuto said, “This was the first time, a Prime Minister has ever visited this Church so it was a happy moment. He lit a candle and offered prayers. We also gave him a gift. He planted a sapling also.”
Perhaps the prime minister was trying to wash off his image as anti-Christian, and also PM Modi in his recent speeches has underlined the minority community’s growing connect with the BJP by citing the party’s poll successes in Goa and recently, in the two northeastern states of Nagaland and Meghalaya. These states have a massive Christian population.
PM Modi has underscored his government’s commitment to the mottos of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’ and development for all without any discrimination.
The BJP is looking for support from the community in Kerala, the state with the largest Christian population in the country, as it works to make new roads there after tasting little victory in previous elections.
However, the prime minister is making no efforts to stop the attacks on churches with pastors being arrested on false charges of conversion. Holding a Sunday service cannot amount to conversion. Once again, the human will is free and if someone does choose to become a Christian from another religion, it cannot be considered a crime.
On Twitter, a horrifying but now regular kind of video is shared nearly every Sunday where churches are vandalized and Christians attacked and arrested. Here is another such incident on Sunday. There are scores of videos revealing the vandalism and violence.
A netizen tweets to the police for help, and this is becoming a regular occurrence. The state governments are ineffectual to help the Christians and the targeted attacks on Christians are normally in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Raipur in Chattisgarh and other states.
“Dear DurgSP Abhishek ji ,
please help Pastor Vinay Sahu Amleshwar , Raipur. He was attacked , beaten at church falsely accused of conversion and taken to police station #StopHate #ChristianPersecution
Dear DurgSP Abhishek ji , @DurgPolice please help Pastor Vinay Sahu Amleshwar , Raipur. He was attacked , beaten at church falsely accused of conversion and taken to police station #StopHate #ChristianPersecution @USCIRF pic.twitter.com/Oc1FmrlPx0
— ItIsWhatItIs (@ItIsWha92763579) April 30, 2023
Hindu Fanatics burning Bible and Handouts at Tadipatri, Ananthapur Dist, AP. Please do justice to Berachah Prayer House, Tadipatri @ysjagan @indSupremeCourt @governorap @AndhraPradeshCM @the_hindu @BBCIndia pic.twitter.com/peJ5lDMbTP
— Christian Voice (@ChristianVoic10) November 24, 2022
Pastor attacked by Religious Fanatic while he is preaching Gospel at Venkatampalli, Tadipatri, Ananthapur of AP on 29/4/2023. Punish the fanatics & protect Christians. Jeep damaged, pastor blood stained. @ysjagan @APPOLICE100 @Fakkeerappa_IPS @dgpapofficial pic.twitter.com/GzoYFwmFRg
— Christian Voice (@ChristianVoic10) April 30, 2023
Peaceful Sunday prayer meeting disrupted by the religious fanatics/goons & Police. More than 20 people have been taken into custody in Kasimabad Gajipur UP Police Station.@PMOIndia @HomeMinistr2024 @Uppolice @dgpup @India_NHRC @INHRCI pic.twitter.com/9nc722FyEL
— Minakshi Singh (@Minaksh82255102) April 23, 2023
Reddigudem, NTR dist, AP : 40 years old church (Church of Christ) is demolished forcefully & illegally with JCB by MDO & Tahsildar while civil suit in https://t.co/Qi756cb64M.61/23 seeking permanent injunction is pending. Do justice @ysjagan @Vasantha_KP @ntrdgoap pic.twitter.com/lOVx7r2pgk
— Christian Voice (@ChristianVoic10) April 21, 2023
Times have not changed much, and in Odhisa too, the 2008 massacre which took nearly 500 lives though the number is downplayed could return if things are not kept under control.
Christian pastors were even burned alive during that period by Hindu extremists. The number killed exceeded a hundred due to the burial of the people, unlike Wikipedia’s report. Around 500 people were killed,(though no one is accepting this, but the cremation grounds showed those many skeletons by one report) thousands were injured, 300 churches and 6,000 homes were destroyed, and 50,000 people were displaced, with many forced to hide in nearby forests where many died of hunger and snakebites.
It is written on one website, ” It is beyond doubt that the violence was premeditated, pre-planned and the work of a well-disciplined group to ensure simultaneous eruption across the Kandhamal district within hours of the first incident and to sustain it for five days despite the presence of the highest police officers in the region.”
Christians were being killed all over in this violent spree. This violence was sourced from Hindu extremist parties, VHP, the Bajrang Dal, and other Sangh. They set fire to many Christian settlements.
The VHP, the Bajrang Dal, and other Sangh burned 730 houses and 95 churches. Hundreds of displaced Christians took shelter in various relief camps set up by the state government. The link below shares the death toll of 500 Christians.
This violence was triggered by a big row in the district of Kalahandi. Four men murdered Swami Laskmananda, a highly revered spiritual guru. While the Maoists have been said to have killed him, there are different versions from different sources as the Christians have said they have been falsely implicated, and Hindu nationalist groups have blamed the violence on the issue of religious conversion.
The Swami was killed by his own people as confessed later by some of his people due to his “immoral life” but this confession will not be made public and the Christian men who were put in jail for the murder have now been acquitted in 2022 because there was no evidence against them.
Now, once again, it is 24 years since Graham Staines and his two minor sons’ brutal murder. Staines spent 35 long years as a Christian missionary nursing leprosy patients in Baripada, Odisha – was burned alive by a group of right-wing activists. His sons Philip and Timothy were burned alive with him. In the morning, their charred bodies were found, holding hands tightly.
Christians in India continue to face targeted attacks on their faith including threats to Christian gatherings, churches, and educational institutions.
Of note, there are 2% Christians in India, around 16% Muslims, and others are Dalits, Buddhists, Jains, Zoroastrians, Jews, and atheists, amid the Hindu majoritarian country of 80% Hindus. Thus to feel so insecure if a Hindu converts to Christianity is unwarranted when at the same breath, the same people feel elated when Americans, Russians, and others convert to Hinduism. Religious freedom is enshrined in the Constitution of India.
The USA, UK, and European nations give their people the freedom to believe in their faith and many even propagate their different religions. The ISKCON movement is very evangelical in its spread throughout the world. Americans, Russians, and other European nations have embraced Hinduism.
Hindus have the freedom to worship and even propagate Hinduism which is growing fast in Europe and Russia. Yogic centers are all over the USA with Krishna Centers and ashrams, temples, etc and Sanatana Dharma Hinduism/Sanatana Dharma is growing the fastest in Russia, Europe, and other countries. Westerners have embraced Hinduism, and they sure are not persecuted by their governments for it.
However, it is unfortunate that propagators of Hindutva accuse 2% to 3% of Christians of conversion and abuse them. In the same breath, Hinduism has expanded and grown in India too.
Several Christians have been arrested on false FIRs such as these and it appears the police are in sync with the local religious fanatics.
While there are certain privileged Christians who feel safe in the periphery of their luxurious comfort zones, there are millions who live in vulnerable territories, especially in villages or in states like Uttar Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Karnataka, and other states, and pastors, preachers, and NGOs helping society are targeted under the accusations of “conversion.”
Regarding the word “evangelism” it is in the Bible. The word evangelism comes from a Greek word meaning “to proclaim the good news.” If an evangelist shares with anyone about Christ, they are not trying to force you to become a Christian, they are to share the “good news” and move on.
The Bible says “Shake the dust off your feet and move on if they don’t want to listen.” Also, people are not trying to “convert” anyone because they want Christians to be a majority force in the world. Christ said, “My Kingdom is not of this world.”
The only people who become Christians have come through a spiritual moving of the soul, which transforms the soul. In the Bible, it is written John 3:8: The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
There is a new Hindutva religious force surging in India with a plan to “Eradicate Christians and Muslims out of India speaking of ethnic cleansing” and political powers are doing nothing to dissuade these genocidal comments and plans. Genocide always starts with hate speech and not in the gas chambers.
Comments such as “Islam is a fast poison and Christianity is a slow poison” and calls for the genocide of 20 million Muslims were made at the Haridwar Conference after which Muslims were once again attacked and villainized.
The last few years have seen dreadful crimes against Muslims increasing with fake news being spread around of their “terrorism”. The new movie, “The Kerala Story” seemed to come with an aim to defame the community, as voiced by different political parties
Hindutva DJS leader in 2021 shocked everyone when he vowed to free India of Muslims and Christians by 2021:however American Indian Hindutva supporters enjoy minority rights in the USA but advocate fascism and minority suppression back in India. Some time back, there was fury over GHHF raising funds in the USA to demolish churches in India.
Most of the English-speaking people in India studied in Christian missionary schools and there were hundreds of these missionary schools scattered over India! Did anyone force them to believe in Christ? If that were so, then all would be Christians today, which is not the case.
In the 2000s, Christian missions ran 16,500 schools and 6,500 hospitals in India. L. K. Advani ji, late Arun Jaitley, and many others studied in missionary schools, and we cannot say that people are converting all over because of these schools or hospitals. Christianity immerses itself in good works as an expression of love for others and God.
Christian in India are by choice and not “converted”. It is their spiritual quest with Christ. In the villages, most of the pastors are poor, and there is no outside funding. Many raise self-sufficient methods, some hold two jobs, but reports of Christians flourishing because of western funds keep floating around.
To take the call of a missionary to serve others calls for sacrifice and even danger, so unless someone is called by God, they cannot do it. It is not easy. And tell me why Hindus would “convert” to Christianity for benefit? It is far easier being a Hindu in India. It is only because of a spiritual breakthrough in their lives that Hindus and others turn to Christ. Listen to their testimonies, talk to them and you will know! It was not a “rice bag” movement. In fact, these men and women had no money! Nothing!
A lot of Hindus are supportive, wonderful, and kind and do not spew this hatred, or “castism” and do not support this violent movement.
Thus, Christians are simply being attacked due to false propoganda of conversion and trying to suppress them so that no one else in India would dare to become a Christian even if they wanted and this is because a certain sect of Hindus want to preserve Hinduism. Ultimately, we don’t have to protect God, dharma…Dharma and God Almighty will protect us. To think we can suppress, slander and slaughter to save our religion is the biggest deception of all.
The views of the author are strictly her own and do not represent the website portal.