Hindus have confronted a group of Christian evangelists, forcing them into a nearby village temple to perform a ritual to “reconvert” them to the Hindu religion, according to a new report from the Voice of the Martyrs which is documenting some of the increasing persecution by Hindus around the world.
While this most recent physical attack was reported by VOM sources inside the Indian state of Orissa, other attacks – albeit verbal – also have reached into the United States.
WND recently reported that Hindus have been launching a series of attacks against Christian organizations dedicated to promoting the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
A report from the Hindu American Foundation accused a long list of Christian organizations, including some providing aid in India, of promoting hatred.
“The proliferation of websites promoting religious hatred is an unfortunate consequence of the universality of access to the internet,” said Vinay Vallabh, the lead author of the report.
Among those targeted verbally included the Southern Baptists’ missions board, Gospel for Asia and the Minnesota-based Olive Tree Ministries, which aims its ministry at teaching Christians about their beliefs.
“We must vigorously identify, condemn and counter those who use the Internet to espouse chauvinism and bigotry over the principles of pluralism and tolerance,” Vallabh said.
While the attacks in the United States have so far remained verbal, those within India almost always result in physical violence, according to VOM.
In Orissa, more than 15 Hindus stopped a small number of Christian evangelists on a village road, verbally abused them, and then forced them into the local temple for the ritual, the report said.
Sources within India told VOM that the evangelists were witnessing and handing out New Testaments and Gospel tracts.
“When chaos broke out, the extremists took the evangelists to the police who put them in jail … and confiscated more than 30 New Testaments and Gospel tracts,” the report said.
A short time later, in Andra Pradesh state, a mob of Hindus attacked a pastor and a team of women evangelists, VOM sources reported.
“As believers completed distributing literature, Hindu extremists first started beating [Pastor David] and then assaulted the ladies sitting in the car,” the sources said. “Some Muslim women joined the attack and started verbally abusing the women.
“They asked Sister Sarita why she was working to convert people to Christianity and yet she looked Muslim,” the sources said. The Christian literature was burned, they reported.
In yet another recent violent attack, VOM sources said two Christian leaders were attacked and beaten by Hindus in Maharashtra state. Local media reports said they were accused of converting Hindus to Christianity before they were attacked.
“It’s highly shameful. It’s as if the [extremists’ organization] just does not understand the concept of law and order,” Congress leader Rajiv Shukla told area media.
There have been many other reports of pastors and leaders being beaten for representing Christ in India. Voice of the Martyrs Canada noted just a few:
- A Christian worker identified as Pawar was attacked in his home.
- Rev. P. Abraham and a college professor were seriously hurt while returning from a church meeting.
- Evangelists from Salem Voice Ministries were attacked and beaten by militants in Kerala state.
The incidents are being reported even as Indian states adopt various pieces of “freedom” legislation concerning religion.
“Rajasthan State has a so-called ‘Freedom of Religion Bill’ that is used as a tool in the hands of fundamentalists to harass Christians,” said VOM contacts, who report on the various attacks, discriminations and persecutions of Christians because of their beliefs.
“The cases of anti-Christian attacks in this area keep increasing, and the State Administration turns a blind eye to the persecution,” they said, according to The Voice of the Martyrs.
“The situation for our brothers and sisters in India is deteriorating,” VOM spokesman Todd Nettleton said. “But God is faithful, and even in these difficult times with so much persecution, the church there is growing. We are thankful for the courageous example of Indian Christians.”
Voice of the Martyrs
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.