Tens of thousands of Christians in Orissa state have fled from religious persecution in the last three weeks. Dozens have been brutally murdered, Christian girls have been raped and Christian homes, businesses and churches destroyed and burned. There are tens of thousands homeless. The anti-Christian violence continues and is now spreading to other parts of India. Many of the poor are hiding in surrounding forests.
The violence started in Orissa, a state on the east coast of India. An Hindu politician, Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, known for his anti-Christian rhetoric, was murdered by Maoist terrorists, who have claimed responsibility. Mobs of Hindu Extremists attacked a Christian run orphanage, killing a woman and a priest, before setting fire to the orphanage.
This violence had been preceded by anti Christian violence in Uttarakhand State in the north, bordering on Tibet and Nepal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Mangalore, Jharkhand north of Orissa and Karnataka State in the south east of India. Hindu extremists, who are behind the violence in Orissa, blamed “Christian militants” for their leader's death.
Low caste Hindus often see Christianity as an escape from the caste system. The Gospel gives them a hope which is not there for them within the caste system. This is perceived, by Hindu extremists, as a threat to the Hindu social structure.
As Indian elections, in May 2009, approach there are fears Hindu extremists will use anti Christian emotionalism for political reasons and the situation will get worse. There is even cries for ethnic cleansing.
The anti-Christian attacks are said to be the worst in the 60 years of India’s independence.
There has over the years been a dramatic increase in the number of Christians in Orissa State. If these persecutions continue, and the Christians remain unwavering in their faith, more will turn to Christ.
September 17th 2008