India's Christians Face Violence, Intimidation Tactics

Allie Martin | AgapePress | Tuesday, March 7, 2006

India's Christians Face Violence, Intimidation Tactics

A spokesman for a ministry to the persecuted Church says anti-Christian hostility and maltreatment of Christian believers in India has reached new levels. According to Gospel for Asia (GFA), Hindu extremists have launched dozens of attacks against Christians and their churches since January.

GFA president K.P. Yohannan says at the root of the violence is growing concern by Hindu nationalists about Christian outreach to India's 300 million Dalits, an outcaste group whose members are often referred to as "untouchables."

Yohannan says Hindu nationalists want India to be what they would call a "pure Hindu" nation. "What they're trying to do," he explains, "is say, 'If you leave the Hindu fold or if you become Christian, we're going to treat you badly, and we are going to go after you.'" In reality, he notes, what these extremists are doing "is a kind of ethnic cleansing, [warning people to] stay away from Christians and don't become Christians."

The ministry founder says many believers in India are standing strong despite increased persecution and hardship. Believing students have been waylaid and beaten while on outreach, pastors of many churches constantly face death threats, and some radio producers of evangelical broadcasts have been attacked with iron rods.

"Every week we have at least a dozen stories we hear from somewhere on the mission field," Yohannan says, "where Christian workers facing such persecution are beaten up and abused, and this is increasing. Yet, one of the best things I am learning is that our people are acknowledging that God is sovereign."

Even in the face of all this violence and hostility from Hindu radicals, Christians intent on living out and spreading the good news of Jesus Christ are remaining steadfast, the president of GFA points out. "Nobody can stop us," he says, "and if laying down our lives for the sake of the gospel [is called for], that is nothing strange or new, and we will go forward."

Hindu extremists in India are continuing their efforts to intimidate Dalit church members and other believers through persecution and threats of violence. Nevertheless, Yohannan says he does not know of a single Christian who has reconverted back to Hinduism.

© 2006 AgapePress