Another series of unprovoked attacks on Christian ministries in India have been documented by Voice of the Martyrs, the ministry to persecuted Christians around the world, raising concerns that the trend will continue to grow.
In recent months, an increasing number of attacks by Hindus have been reported on Christian organizations or individuals. In Hindu-dominated parts of the world, such attacks often are violent and sometimes lethal, while in the United States they have remained verbal.
According to VOM, one of the recent attacks was in Rajasthan, India, where five men launched an attack on Emmanuel Ministries.
Voice of the Martyrs contacts in the region reported that the attackers carried handguns and a sword but also used a large stick and rocks and stones in the attack.
“They started fighting Mr. Jetha, one of the ministry office staff. They shouted that they would kill ‘M.A.’ [a ministry member], and Samuel Thomas, the leader of Emmanuel Ministries, and continuously beat Mr. Jetha,” the sources told VOM.
“They threatened that they would ‘kill and willingly go to prison for six years,'” the sources confirmed.
In a second incident a few days later, members of Believers Assembly Church in Sri Ganga Nagar District were ordered to police headquarters after Hindu fundamentalists complained believers were converting local villagers, the sources said.
“The new believers were threatened by police and pressured to leave Christianity and return to Hinduism. They were also warned that if they fail to return to Hinduism the provisions of the Anti-Conversion Act of Rajasthan, would be used to arrest them,” the sources said.
In still another attack about the same time as the two in Rajasthan, a mob in Karnataka that included about 15 Bajrang Dal extremists armed with clubs, bats and knives attacked another Believers Church.
They beat the pastor mercilessly, the sources said.
“The attackers barged into the church and abused the Christians, using filthy language and began hitting and stabbing them. They destroyed the pulpit, chairs, musical instruments, furniture, and window panes and damaged the church walls. The pastor was also severely beaten with a cricket bat and his body was swollen,” the sources reported.
In the U.S., the Hindu American Foundation has attacked Christian organizations ranging from the Southern Baptists’ missions board and Gospel for Asia to Olive Tree Ministries, which aims to teach Christians about their beliefs.
“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 a report that attacked the Christian groups for their expression of 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.
Vallabh’s report, called “Hyperlink to Hinduphobia: Online Hatred, Extremism and Bigotry Against Hindus,” expresses his hope that Internet Service Providers will start censoring Christian postings of their beliefs, “a necessary step as we continue our balancing act between free speech and licentious speech that leads to violence in the electronic age.”
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.