While persecution of Christians – largely by radical Hindus – is far too routine in India, in the past there have been areas of that nation where the level of animosity has been lower, including Kerala State. But that has changed suddenly, according to reports from Voice of the Martyrs, with the unprovoked attack on a Christian man and his wife by a mob of youths.
Officials with VOM, a U.S.-based Christian group helping members of the persecuted Christian church worldwide, said the attack happened in Pavaloor, in Kerala State, just last week, when a mob stabbed and killed a 58-year-old Christian man, identified as S. Stanley.
Sources within the region told VOM that a mob of youths assembled in front of the Stanleys’ house, shouting abuses against Christians.
“Stanley and his wife came out of the house and asked the youths to leave. This angered them further and they began stoning the house and tried violently to force themselves through Stanley’s gate,” the sources reported.
While Stanley was inside the home calling police, the attackers climbed over a locked gate, broke into the house and stabbed him in the back, neck and stomach, and then assaulted his wife, the sources said.
“Where Stanley was martyred has traditionally been an area of India that has seen less persecution. The fact that something like this is happening is further evidence of the worsening climate for Christians in India,” the contacts told VOM, which asked its supporters to “pray for Christians in India to be bold witnesses for Christ in spite of threats and attacks against them.”
A number of organizations that monitor the level of Christian persecution worldwide consistently rank India as among those nations that are a significant concern.
Several states there have passed anti-conversion laws, which ban anyone from changing religious beliefs through “force, fraud or allurement.” They are perceived as being targeted at Christians since the laws define “allurement” as any indication of an assured life after death, such as Christianity teaches. And “force” is being defined as any indication of a presence of a “divine displeasure.”
Even government reports within India have documented the frequent harassment and persecution of minority Christians by Hindu extremists, who have falsified complaints to have Christians arrested, have physically destroyed Christians’ homes and businesses, and have attacked and killed Christians.
In addition to the fatal attack on Stanley, reports have confirmed that just in the past few weeks, several Gospel for Asia missionaries were hurt in another attack by radical Hindu groups, and two GFA pastors were injured in a beating.
One of the local police officers in that situation allegedly was part of the attacking mob, which is why many times persecution of Christians is difficult to document: police either have participated, or simply refuse to take the reports of the attacks.
But according to the World Evangelical Alliance, more than 200 million Christians in at least 60 nations including India are routinely denied fundamental human rights solely because of their faith.
VOM is a non-profit, interdenominational ministry working worldwide to help Christians who are persecuted for their faith, and to educate the world about that persecution. Its headquarters are in Bartlesville, Okla., and it has 30 affiliated international offices.
It was launched by the late Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, who started smuggling Russian Gospels into Russia in 1947, just months before Richard was abducted and imprisoned in Romania where he was tortured for his refusal to recant Christianity.
He eventually was released in 1964 and the next year he testified about the persecution of Christians before the U.S. Senate’s Internal Security Subcommittee, stripping to the waist to show the deep torture wound scars on his body.
The group that later was renamed The Voice of the Martyrs was organized in 1967, when his book, “Tortured for Christ,” was released.