Christian pastors in India’s “beautiful country” district in Karnataka state, where the government website highlights a native dance as a “common form of worship,” are facing an apparently organized pattern of arrest, destruction of property and beatings for their faith.
A recent series of episodes highlighted by Voice of the Martyrs, which works with persecuted Christians worldwide, illustrates the concern.
The attacks started late one recent evening when a pastor’s rented house was broken into by a gang of militant Hindus who accused Pastor Joseph of not bowing before Hindu gods, officials said.
The 50-year-old leader has shepherded 18 families at the Kodambi Village Church in Hankaltaluk in Karnataka State for several years.
He was forced from his home in the middle of the night as the Hindus threw his personal belongings out of his home and accused him of converting Hindus to Christianity, officials said. The attackers loaded Pastor Joseph’s possessions onto a tractor and then sent him to the Mundgode police station, about 20 miles away.
Police there took him into custody, ignored his possessions, but released him a short time later.
The province of Karnataka spreads over the Deccan Plateau and covers about 7 percent of the nation of India, holding a population of about 45 million. The name reportedly comes from the word “Kari-Nadu,” meaning black soil or beautiful country, the government’s website explains.
The government’s document also explains that the region’s “religion” includes the “popular belief … that the almighty power enters the human body and blesses the people.”
The region is known for its grandiose temples, the Gomata colossus and the pursuit of lives of “good conduct and self-surrender” which are supposed to lead to “spiritual vision in celestrial songs,” the government explains.
Officials said when Pastor Johnson, a senior Christian leader in the Dakshina Kannada district, and a local Christian, David Chacko, went to visit the Mundgode police station to try to resolve the situation, they were the victims of a militant conspiracy with police and were attacked before they let Chacko’s home, and dragged to the police station.
The arrest was again followed by harassment, after which they were set free, officials said.
Meanwhile, the attackers also chased Pastor Chandrakanth, an evangelist from the village, and began hunting for other pastors nearby.
“The Voice of the Martyrs has since assisted in providing shelter in a nearby city for Pastor Chandrakanth, who desires to continue his evangelization of the area despite stiff opposition,” Voice of the Martyrs said.
VOM was launched by Rev. Richard Wurmbrand, who wrote “Tortured for Christ” about his experiences representing Christ in war-torn Europe. His testimony, and ministry’s work, has spread around the globe.