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Violence in India Is Fueled by Religious and Economic Divide

Sunday, October 19, 2008 • 7:47 pm

I recall seeing a number of Indian bishops at Lambeth and I’ve been watching the news on India with some deeper interest.  The violence against Christians seems to be continuing.

This is from an article from the NY Times back in September

I suppose if Christians are going to be persecuted and killed, this reason is an admirable one for the Christians—it makes me quietly honored to be fellow Christians with them: “Orissa has long suffered from government neglect, and Christian missionaries provide services, including schooling, much better than most residents receive from the government.”

Those who came to attack Christians here early last week set their trap well, residents say.

First, they built makeshift barricades of trees and small boulders along the roads leading into this village, apparently to stop the police from intervening.

Then, villagers say, the attackers went on a rampage. Chanting “Kill these pigs” and “All Hindus are brothers,” the mob began breaking into homes that displayed posters of Jesus, stealing valuables and eventually burning the buildings. When they found residents who had not fled to the nearby jungle, they beat them with sticks or maimed them with axes and left them to die.

A local official said three people died as a result of the attack on Aug. 25. The carefully placed roadblocks accomplished their purpose; residents say a full day passed before help arrived.

One villager, Asha Lata Nayak, said, “I saw the mob carrying sticks, axes, swords, knives and small guns. They first demolished the village church and later Christian houses. Nobody came forward to help us.”

The scene in Tiangia was repeated in villages throughout the Kandhamal district and several other areas of Orissa, a remote and destitute state in eastern India, witnesses and the police said. The violence, which left at least 16 dead, was among the worst in decades against Christians in this Hindu-dominated nation and appears to have been fueled, at least in part, by discontent at a time when the gap between India’s haves and have-nots is growing.

Orissa has long suffered from government neglect, and Christian missionaries provide services, including schooling, much better than most residents receive from the government. While that has caused friction before, the stakes are higher now that better-educated people have more of a chance of joining the economic boom.

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Thank you, Sarah!

It is interesting you posted this story when you did, our parish received a report from Angela Wu from her recent trip in September with the Becket Fund.

The number from AP as of Oct. 15 were 59 dead, 500,000 displaced. Part of the tension is that Orissa has a Christian population of about 20% which is far above national average for India (there was too much information all at once to remember that number). The violence began with the death of a Hindu leader, which the authorities already pointed to another group, but the Christians are being blamed for it.

She played an audio recording of the worship from one of the refugee camp, it was hauntingly joyful considering all that has happened, I’m challenged if I have such faith.

Certainly keep India and Bangladesh (the other part of her travels) in prayer. Pray for safety of our brothers and sisters in Christ, justice for the government is turning a blind eye and that Satan’s yoke is broken. She commented how one could see the Spiritual Warfare side of everything on this trip. Pray the Christians would remain strong in their trust in Jesus.

[1] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 10-19-2008 at 09:19 PM • top

I got zero happy - rereading Angela’s piece it’s 50,000 displaced. 20% in Orissa compared to 2.5% overall.

[2] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 10-19-2008 at 09:49 PM • top

Under attack by post-deconstructionist modernist mavens of meaninglessness on the one hand, on the other, under attack from false followers of foul modern interpretations of religions that are already only barely functioning if that (presuming our Lord takes the charitable view of the sincere among that one of the followers of Tash found from Aslan in Prince Caspian). My apologies the train-wreck that sentence is! And that’s only two of the groups arrayed against the faithful.

With so many enemies, it sorta kinda makes me think we might be doing something right. As in the old popular proverb, “You can tell the quality of a man by who his enemies are.” May God have mercy on all those deluded ones, and on his faithful.

[3] Posted by ears2hear on 10-19-2008 at 10:07 PM • top

er, “sincere among them” it should be. More apologies.

[4] Posted by ears2hear on 10-19-2008 at 10:08 PM • top

I really feel funny publishing something that came across out parish listserv, but her job is to advocate and make the public aware of religious freedom issue, and it’s just too strange that Sarah posts a September story the very night Angela gave a report, that I’ll go with it and share (also my mind is swimming in many facts and anecdotes to deliver a coherent summery:

As many of you know, I recently returned from a month in Bangladesh and India, working with people of many faiths on religious freedom issues. I also had the privilege to fellowship with and teach people from the indigenous churches.

To give you a brief glimpse, I visited Orissa, India, where since August Hindu extremists have killed dozens of Christians, burned over 4,000 churches and homes, and driven some 25,000 into hiding in the jungle. Police have been helpless to overcome the violent mobs and in some cases have been complicit in the attacks. The extremists continue to tell Christians they must convert to Hinduism if they want to return home, and many who remained in their villages have already been forcibly “converted” to Hinduism.

The Hindu extremists claim that the violence is due to aggressive Christian evangelism that destroys local Hindu culture, and so the Indian government has said one of its responses to the violence will be to enforce existing anti-conversion laws aimed at curbing Christian mission work. Despite all these difficulties, one Indian Christian leader told me that he remains confident: “Ultimately there will be justice. God will prevail. People will know the truth.”

In Bangladesh, a Muslim-background woman told me that she and her adult children converted to Christianity after her husband died. After many years they are still the only Christians in their village of 100 Muslim families. In the beginning, the villagers pillaged and destroyed her small store, beat her, shunned her, and even threw feces at her door. She was thinking one day of where she could go to escape when she heard the Lord tell her to stay put: “If you leave, the people will not receive the light.” So she stayed. When her neighbors came and mocked her, she thanked them. That was in 2005. Today there is a meeting of seekers in her home every Friday night.

This is how the Kingdom of God is growing in the most challenging circumstances— with love, obedience, and faith. Thank you for your prayers for me while I was gone. I’ve learned a lot and hope to share more with you this Sunday after service.

In His grace,

[5] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 10-19-2008 at 10:54 PM • top

The most ironic thing about the charge that Christian proselytism “destroys Hindu culture” is that most of the people who convert are dalits or tribals—that is, people who are so low they are not allowed to worship in Hindu temples, or who hold to the pre-Hindu nature religions.  This faux rage is about the conversions of those to whom high-caste Hindus would scarcely deign to speak.  While the leaders of the Hindutva groups are often upper-caste, the mob violence is actually committed by people just one step up from these lowest of the low.  This is driven by envy and greed and by a rage which can be truly called Satanic.

[6] Posted by Katherine on 10-19-2008 at 11:59 PM • top

I have been receiving e-mails for months from evangelicals in northern India detailing the attacks on Christians.  Prayers were asked, of course, but also practical action: letters to the prime minister, the local chief of police, and the president of India. I have complied, and sent to my informant the article from the NYTimes so he could see that the world is beginning to take notice.  Yesterday, National Public Radio had a piece on the situation, and today Public Television had a section of the Ethics and Religion Program dedicated to the persecution of Christians in Iraq and India.  Psydneyh

[7] Posted by psydneyh on 10-20-2008 at 02:24 AM • top

There have been so many excellent comments on this sad situation that all I have left to offer is prayer.

Dear Lord, protect your servants. Answer their cries oh Lord and send your angels to stand with them. Give them the hope to carry your light into the darkness.  Give them the love to serve their brothers and sisters without fear.  Give them the faith to hold fast against the enemy spiritual and temporal.  So that the Truth they speak may be the voice of freedom for those who hear it.

[8] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 10-20-2008 at 11:55 AM • top

While capitalist company’s cave in to Islam:
October 20, 2008
Sony’s shameful surrender to Islam

Sony have given in to Islam. There had been barely a murmur of protest, but because the soundtrack to its new game LittleBigPlanet contained to Koran verses - including the line ‘Every soul shall have the taste of death’ - the manufacturers have withdrawn the game and are going to change the soundtrack. Frightened of the words being taken literally perhaps. ElderofZiyon has the details. This stinks, it really does. Regular readers of this blog will remember the story we broke about Sony’s shoot-em-up game that showed a lethal gun fight in the nave of Manchester Cathedral. Manchester is a centre of gun crime and campaigning against this is a central plank of the cathedral’s mission. Despite requests and protests from Christian groups, Sony refused to withdraw the game. Why so craven when it comes to Islam, so contemptuous when it comes to Christianity? My advice? Stick with Nintendo.

Technorati Tags: Islam, Manchester cathedral, Nintendo, Sony

Posted by Ruth Gledhill on October 20, 2008 at 10:57 AM in Islam | Permalink

[9] Posted by TLDillon on 10-20-2008 at 12:59 PM • top

I am not sure what I can do as I am not a computer wiz… I will certainly pray for all those persecuted. Can you post some of the contacts that you speak of so that we can start writing ,calling, anything that will bring this the attention it deserves!

[10] Posted by Pauliecarp on 10-21-2008 at 08:07 AM • top

Thank you Sarah for republishing this.  It is old, but we need to keep this in the public eye.  Here is a persecution website about India.  I can never seem to manage reading all the articles for even one day because they send me to weeping and praying.  Persecution Update India.  This will be swept under the rug before long if it hasn’t been already because the 1st and 2nd world countries have such a short attention span.  Let us be in prayer, and let us be vocal!

[11] Posted by Modest Mystic on 10-21-2008 at 03:58 PM • top

I have three addresses that I wrote to about the Christians in India.  One does not have an e-mail.  It was suggested that we ask that an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation probe the sitution, as the local officials do nothing.
Shri Navin Patnaik
Chief Minister of Orissa
Naveen Nivas
Aerodrome Road
P.O. Bhubaneswar
Pin-+51001 (Orissa)

e-mail <>

Dr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India
Room No. 152
South Block
New Delhi 110001

Mrs. Pratibha Patil
Hon’ble President of India
Rashtrapati Bhavan
New Delhi 11001



[12] Posted by psydneyh on 10-21-2008 at 07:36 PM • top

I don’t know why the e-mail addresses didn’t print.I   ‘ll try again.  for the President of India .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

for the Chief Minister of Orissa .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

It would be appreciated, I think, if you sent a blind copy to the Rev.Dr. Richard Howell, General Secretary, Evangelical Fellowship of India, New Delhi, India
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  The EFI is an accredited NGO with the Economic and Social Council of the UN.

[13] Posted by psydneyh on 10-22-2008 at 01:35 AM • top

“Please continue to pray for your suffering brothers and sisters, that they would bear their burdens with faith and perseverance.  Please pray for mercy for them and their persecutors.”

[14] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 10-22-2008 at 12:59 PM • top

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