Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 455 | Wed 21 Nov 2007
India, which is around 80 percent Hindu and 12 percent Muslim, has
a population of more than one billion of whom some 25 million (2.4
percent) are Christian. The Indian Church is ancient and
traditional, dating back to the first century and the Apostle
Thomas. It is also new and dynamic with an indigenous missionary
movement emerging in the 1960s such that India is now second only
to USA as a missionary-sending nation. Most Indian missionaries
minister cross-culturally in India. Indian states are extremely
diverse: Mizoram and Nagaland for instance are mostly Christian,
whilst other states like all those across the northern tribal belt
are still pioneer mission fields where there are numerous and large
unreached people groups. Many of those states, such as Rajasthan,
Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, are in the grip of
'Hindutva' is a fascist Hindu nationalist and militant ideology
being advanced by Hindu nationalist politicians for political gain.
In the February 1998 federal elections, the Hindu nationalist
Barantya Janata Party (BJP) emerged with the largest numbers of
votes. They headed a coalition government that saw persecution of
Christians immediately and dramatically escalate. The United
Christian Forum for Human Rights reported there had been 108
separate cases of violence against Christians reported during 1998 -
two per week - and more than the total in India's 50 years of post-
independence history. The BJP then suffered a shock election loss
in May 2004. After months of infighting and reflection, the BJP
emerged in 2005 with a strategy to regain federal power, preferably
in the 2009 elections, and preferably with a clear majority.
The BJP strategy is to convert the mostly illiterate animist tribal
Indians to Hinduism and then dragnet the Hindu vote through an
aggressive Hindutva campaign. The BJP is presently campaigning
across the nation to convince tribal animists (who traditionally
vote for non-Hindu parties) that they are really Hindus who should
come into the 'Hindu mainstream' for the defence of their beloved
India. Defence? Yes: defence against a terrible enemy - the
Christian missionary! Emissaries of Hindutva charge Christian
missionaries (mostly Indians) with dividing Indian families and
causing social unrest, as well as being tools of the CIA through
whom they allege the USA is undermining Indian national security!
Before 2005, members of Hindutva militias carried out nearly all
the attacks on Christians. Today, though the militias are
expanding, a significant proportion of attacks are perpetrated by
Christians' Hindu neighbours who have been incited to violence by
the BJP's Hindutva scaremongering. Before 2005 most attacks against
Christians were in the northern tribal belt. Today they are
nationwide, from tribal Bihar in the north to cosmopolitan
Bangalore (the 'Silicon Valley of India') in the south.
Furthermore, multitudes no longer see them as shameful acts of
intolerance but as heroic acts of patriotism.
On 17 November, the All India Catholic Union reported there have
been 190 cases of violence against Christians so far this year -
more than four a week. These are not common crimes like robbery but
instances of Christians being assaulted, raped or murdered solely
because of their Christian faith. Persecution is most severe in
states under BJP rule, with Karnataka recording the most
atrocities. Persecution is at higher levels than ever before, and
the BJP re-election campaign is advancing unchallenged.
PLEASE PRAY AND ASK GOD TO -
* bring the Indian Church through these days of trial, refined,
sanctified, united and triumphant. 'For our struggle is not
against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the
authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against
the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.' (Ephesians
* intervene in the Indian situation: may he fill India's federal
politicians with indignation over the religious intolerance and
anoint leaders (Isaiah 45:1) to confront Hindutva and expose its
lies and religious intolerance; may he awaken Indians to the
dangers of Hindutva (including repression and isolation) and the
destructive lies and hateful incitement of its advocates.
PLEASE CONTINUE PRAYING FOR THE FOLLOWING CURRENT MATTERS -
EGYPT (Updating RLP 441 - 9 August 2007): Mohammed Hegazi's case
against Egypt's Interior Ministry is presently before the courts.
Hegazi, who is demanding his right to convert from Islam to
Christianity, has been forced into hiding. Please pray for Mohammed
Hegazi as well as Egypt's Great Apostasy Debate.
TURKEY (A reminder from RLP 454 - 14 November 2007): Five Turkish
Muslim nationalists go to trial on Friday 23 November for the
torture and murder of three Christians in Malatya on 18 April.
Turkish nationalist tensions are high and there is a rising move to
demonise Christians and justify the murders.
LEBANON (Updating RLP 437 - 11 July 2007): Under Lebanon's
constitution, the president must step down when his term expires on
Friday 23 November, by which date a new president must be elected.
However the country is still totally polarised between Sunni pro-
West and Shiite pro-Syria-Hezballah forces. The Christian minority
too is divided. A crisis is looming with great potential for
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Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.