India: Christmas Pain

General January 4, 2007
Since losing power in the 2005 federal elections, India's Hindu
nationalists have been striving to effect political conversions to
Hindu nationalism which will translate into support for the fascist
Hindu nationalist political party, the BJP. Inciting hatred and
fear of Christianity is a key element of this strategy. This has
led to escalating persecution of Christians who now suffer not only
at the hands of Hindu militants but also at the hands of their
suspicious and fearful Hindu neighbours, especially in states under
BJP rule. The only real way to stop the Hindu nationalist advance
is through wide-scale, grass-roots rejection of their false
message.

Compass Direct (CD) reports that on the night of 23 December in the
Boriguma area of Orissa state Hindu extremists burnt down a
thatched church the believers had decorated for their Christmas
celebration. Also, on Christmas Eve 45 jeeps full of BJP-backed
Hindu militants prowled the streets of Raipur, the capital of
Chhattisgarh state, threatening to close all church services held
on Christmas Day. Another Hindu militant group attacked Christians
singing carols on Christmas Eve in Jalampur shanty town just south
of Raipur. One of the carol singers, a Bible college student,
suffered a broken hand, another suffered hearing loss from a blow
to the head and others were beaten and their hymn books and Bibles
were destroyed. The 'Times of India' reported the incident by
quoting the police who claimed the carol singers were engaged in
fraudulent conversion activities. CD reports that Hindu militants
then began patrolling the streets of Dhamatri.

In Tilonda village in Maharashtra state militants from VKP (a
militia of Hinduised tribals) burst into a Christmas Eve prayer
service and abused and dispersed the 400 believers gathered there.
Due to anti-Christian violence in the village the pastors had
requested police protection for their prayer service. The police
were there but did not intervene. Similarly on 18 December 2006
Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore, Karnataka state, visited a
school and church complex attacked by local Hindus the day before.
When he arrived at the campus he and his companions were pulled
from their car while the car was attacked by an angry mob. Police
were present but did not intervene. This climate of impunity can
only encourage more brazen attacks.

In a surprise move on 29 December 2006 the Congress-led government
in Himachal Pradesh passed a law banning fraudulent conversions.
Five BJP-led states have anti-conversion laws but this is the first
Congress-led state government to pass such a law. (Hindu
nationalists do not regard conversion to Hinduism as conversion but
as 'homecoming'. However carol singing at Christmas may be regarded
as fraudulent conversion activity!)

The Ardh Kumbh commences on 3 January and some 70 million Hindus
will try to wash their sins away in the Ganges River at Allahabad
in north India. There is a tragic irony in Hindus seeking to wash
sin off their skin with effluent-laden waters while Christians, the
bearers of the Good News, are being persecuted nationwide. Please
pray through the Ardh Kumbh (3 January - 26 February) that Hindus
will be spiritually awakened to the folly and futility of their
cleansing efforts and that God might prepare their hearts to
receive the gospel.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL:

* comfort, encourage and build up Christians who were intimidated,
abused, attacked, injured and traumatised over Christmas. He is
'the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. . .' (2
Corinthians 1:1-7)

* protect believers who risk attack in worshipping and sharing the
Good News of Jesus; may he surround his people (Psalm 125:2) and
frustrate the ways of the wicked (Psalm 146:9).

* move India's federal government to challenge unconstitutional
state laws, thus protecting India's constitutional religious
liberty, and actively counter the false history, lies and
propaganda of the Hindu nationalists.

* open the eyes of Hindus seeking cleansing from sin during the
Ardh Kumbh and prepare their hearts to receive the gospel.

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SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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CHRISTMAS PAIN IN INDIA

Hindu nationalists have been striving throughout 2006 to effect
political conversions to fascist Hindu nationalism. Inciting hatred
and fear of Christianity is a key element of this strategy. This
has led to escalating persecution of Christians who now suffer not
only at the hands of Hindu nationalist militants but also at the
hands of their suspicious and fearful Hindu neighbours. Churches
and individual Christians were attacked all across India over the
Christmas period. Churches were burnt, carol singers were beaten,
services were attacked and worshippers dispersed. Several towns
were patrolled by armed Hindu militants and vigilantes who
threatened violence to any Christian daring to celebrate Christmas.
>From 3 January to 26 February Hindus will attend the Ardh Kumbh to
wash away their sins in the Ganges River. Please pray that God will
open their eyes and prepare their hearts to receive the gospel.

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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this
RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray
specifically and regularly for religious liberty
issues, and in particular to uphold the Church
where it is suffering persecution.

RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.