Catholic mission hospital, nuns attacked in central India

March 13, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Madhya Pradesh, March 13, 2018: Suspected Hindu activists demolished the wall of a Catholic mission hospital and manhandled staff including nuns in the latest incident in Madhya Pradesh state, considered a hotbed of anti-Christian violence in central India.

Some 60 people with the help of a bulldozer razed the boundary wall of 44-year-old Pushpa Mission Hospital in the temple town of Ujjain on March 12. They blocked its emergency entrance and destroyed equipment including power generators.

The hospital has been facing trouble since January after Gagan Singh, the personal assistant of a local parliamentarian, staked a claim over disputed land, said hospital director Father Anthony Pulickamandapam.

He told ucanews that the land in front of the hospital was given to the hospital by the local civic body for use as a parking area and to maintain its greenery.

The dispute has gone to court after members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the pro-Hindu party that runs the state government, attempted to take over the land on Jan. 27, accusing the church of illegally occupying the site.

Hospital authorities obtained a stay order to maintain the status quo from the Madhya Pradesh High Court on Feb. 2 until a further hearing. But the court transferred the case to a lower court for a police investigation and hearing.

On March 8, the lower court said that as the case and investigation were proceeding peacefully, there was no need for a stay order, Bishop Sebastian Vadakkel of Ujjain told ucanews.

The attack happened two days after church authorities sought another stay order.

Father Pulickamandapam said the attackers came armed with a bulldozer and sharp-edged weapons. They demolished the boundary wall, erected a fence and put up some makeshift shops to claim the land.

“Our staff including Catholic nuns who attempted to resist the advance were manhandled and forced to flee for safety,” he told ucanews.

“They also destroyed the back-up power generator and disconnected the water supply, putting the lives of nearly 200 patients including 12 in the intensive care unit in serious danger.”

Bishop Vadakkel said hospital staff were surprised by the police’s inaction. The local police station and other senior officials refused to respond to calls for help. “Even our staff nurses, who approached the women’s police station to lodge a complaint, were turned away,” he said.

Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal said the attack was part of “a systematic plan to bring disturbance and violence among a peace-loving community.” He wanted the state government to arrest the culprits immediately.

A Catholic delegation led by Bishop Vadakkel met state governor Anandiben Patel, who was visiting the town and sought protection for Christians and their properties.

Bishop Vadakkel believes the attack was an attempt to intimidate poor people to keep them away from Christians and their institutions.

The BJP, which has ruled the state for 15 years after winning three successive elections, will seek another term in the state election due at the end of this year.

Hindu groups present themselves as protectors of Hindu rights to garner Hindu votes and an easy way to that end is to attack Christians, who comprise less than one percent of the 73 million people in the state, church officials say.

Madhya Pradesh had the greatest number of anti-Christian incidents in India last year, according to a report by Persecution Relief, an ecumenical forum that records Christian persecution in India. It witnessed 52 attacks against Christians in 2017, up from 28 in 2016, the report said.

Attacks have increased since the BJP came to power in New Delhi in 2014. There were 736 reported attacks against Christians in 2017, up from 348 in 2016, said Persecution Relief.

– ucan

India’s pro-Hindu party wins over Christian-led states

March 13, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

New Delhi, March 13, 2018: The power of symbolism matters the most in politics. It is not without good reason that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi received a grand welcome from his party members in parliament and top leaders as he arrived for the second half of a budget session on March 5.

Modi was greeted with traditional jackets and stoles made by indigenous people in northeastern states. They were given to all lawmakers and federal ministers from Modi’s pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who attended the session wearing them.

The point was to drive home the message that the BJP has been able to make a significant impact among tribal voters, mostly Christians, in the northeastern region in the just-concluded elections in three states.

“BJP leaders are upbeat about these election results as they believe this will help them in future elections in states like Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh later this year. This lays a good foundation for Modi’s party for the 2019 general elections,” political observer Ratnadeep Gupta told

The results of state elections in the Christian-dominated states of Nagaland and Meghalaya, as well as in the communist stronghold of Tripura on March 3, showed how the BJP is making considerable gains in these areas.

This is especially the case among indigenous people, among whom the party has had a negligible presence so far.

In Tripura, the BJP and its allies won 43 seats in the 60-seat house in a historical victory that unseated the communists after 25 years of uninterrupted rule.

In Nagaland, the BJP-led coalition won 31 seats with the BJP alone claiming 12 to set a new precedent in India’s tribal heartland. The BJP alliance is staking a claim to form the next government.

It also aims to be part of the ruling authority in Catholic-dominated Meghalaya state despite having only won two seats in the 59-seat house.

Yet it has managed to cobble together a formidable alliance by teaming up with a local party that won 19 seats and three other parties to unseat its main rival, the Congress Party.

The latter has emerged as the single largest party, wining 21 seats but falling 10 short of a simple majority.

In effect, the BJP will control governments in all three states that have gone to the polls. The party’s jubilation was well articulated by party leader and federal law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

“In spite of a very vicious campaign against the BJP among the Christian minorities, it has won 12 seats” in Nagaland, he said.

– ucan

Christian teen abducted by sex traffickers shares how God restored hope amid tragedy

March 13, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

India, March 13, 2018: A Christian teenager who was abducted by sex traffickers in India has opened up about her traumatic experience and God’s healing presence in her life.

As one of the few Christians in a predominantly Hindu region of India, Reena became accustomed to persecution at a young age, according to a new report from persecution watchdog Open Doors.

“Nobody wanted to play with me because they were Hindus and I wasn’t,” Reena, now 19, recalled. “When I didn’t take part in their rituals, they would scold me for it. After school, I just came home and entertained myself. My parents explained that persecution will come when you are a Christian. And I wasn’t jealous of the Hindus because Jesus gave me joy inside.”

Because of their faith, her parents were forbidden to draw water from the village well: “They had to walk a few kilometers (about a mile) to get water from the river,” Reena said.

As a teenager, Reena went to school in a different village and lived in a youth hostel, free of persecution. But when the family’s money ran out, Reena couldn’t continue school and was forced to go to work, teaching school.

There, the discrimination continued. After taking on a job as a teacher, the teen was told she would receive a salary of 1,500 rupees a month ($23.13), but received just 500 rupees ($7.71).

When the school stopped paying her altogether, Renna found another teaching job. Shortly after she began working, the school’s headmaster invited the teen to a teachers meeting where he offered her some Indian sweets.

The following days, she said, were a “blur,” as she was held unconscious and remembers nothing. Notes Open Doors: “That may be true, at least partially. More likely is that what happened to her was so terrible she doesn’t want to share about the days she went missing. She is likely one of the millions of girls in India who are kidnapped and trafficked each year.”

At one point, Reena called her parents and told them she was being held “in a terrible place.” However, police refused to investigate her disappearance.

Eventually, the teen woke up in a train car and was able to escape. In the train station, the young girl – still in shock from all that she had survived – realized she was 14 hours away from her village. She recalled seeing police officers but being too weak to walk to them. Fortunately, she was able to call a friend to pick her up.

“I was so confused,” Reena said. “Apparently, I asked her and her parents not to call my parents.”

After a couple of days, Reena boarded a train and returned home where her parents met her and immediately took her to the hospital. Slowly, she began to realize what had happened to her and fell into a deep depression. At one point, she contemplated taking her own life.

“I had all these questions,” she said. “Why did this happen? And why did the villagers target me of all people?”

With nowhere else to turn, the teen attended a Christian church service. As the pastor prayed, Reena said she began to feel her physical pain and depression lift.

“I was really touched by God,” she shared. “When I came home, I was overjoyed and shared what had happened with my Hindu friends. I wanted them to come to a similar church service and also experience God’s healing power in their lives.”

Eventually, Reena found healing in the Psalms and Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come to Him and eat with Him, and He with me.”

“I realized that if I opened the door of my heart, that Jesus would come in and dine with me,” she said. “So I surrendered to Him. I came to know that it was Satan who wanted to destroy my life, but God loves me. My future is very bright. I will share the gospel with non-believers. I don’t expect more problems.”

Almost 46 million people are enslaved worldwide – trafficked into brothels, forced into manual labor, victims of debt bondage or even born into servitude – according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index.

India is ranked 11th on Open Door USA’s World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most persecution. Notes the outlet: “Because Hindu radicals view Christians as outsiders, they are experiencing increased persecution. These radicals are intent on cleansing the nation of both Islam and Christianity and employ violence to this end. Usually, converts to Christianity experience the worst persecution and are constantly under pressure to return to Hinduism.”

– gospel herald

Catholic church in China has crosses removed

March 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Asia, newsletter-asia

Hong Kong, March 13, 2018: Crosses on Shangqiu South Church (Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) in China have been removed by the district government.

It is the first Catholic church in Henan province to have crosses removed. Officials later installed new ones but they were much smaller in numbers and size.

A source who asked to be unnamed told that street office and district committee officials on March 8 asked the church to remove its crosses.

“The officials said the largest one at the highest point of the cathedral had to be removed but church staff disagreed,” the source said.

Church staff reported the incident to both the municipal and district religious affairs bureaus. They also disagreed with the crosses’ removal but the street office and the district committee insisted.

Officials from both bureaus visited district officials, who refused to listen and removed the crosses on March 9 by using a crane.

The South Church comprises an old small church, a cathedral and a gate tower. A total of 10 crosses were removed — six above the cathedral, one above the door of the cathedral, and three above the old church next to the cathedral.

After their removal, a few Catholics went to the cathedral and prayed outside. An old lady was seen crying.

The source said someone reported the incident to the provincial National People’s Congress (NPC) and the provincial Chinese People’s Political Consultation Conference (CPPCC).

Under pressure from the two organizations, the street office erected new crosses on March 10.

Only three crosses instead of six were placed above the cathedral, while one was put above the door of the cathedral and one instead of three on the old church.

The central cross above the cathedral had been three meters in height but its replacement was only half that size.

Father John of Henan province said the cadres’ action was “brutal” and misunderstood the recently revised regulations on religious affairs.

A Catholic who works in the provincial NPC and CPPCC said the cathedral is legal but the removal of crosses was illegal and should be suspended. He asked why the original heritage crosses were not reinstalled.

Several incidents have targeted Christianity in Henan recently, including the removal of crosses and the posting of signs prohibiting minors to enter churches, but Father John believes Henan is not a particular target.

“Since the newly revised regulations on religious affairs were enforced, such incidents have happened nationwide,” he said.

The crackdown on religious groups such as Eastern Lightning started in Henan and then had an impact on Christianity, he said.

– ucan

Algerian govt. shut down of churches shrouded in uncertainty, but Christians fear persecution

March 13, 2018 by  
Filed under newsletter-world, World

Algeria, March 13, 2018: The government of Algeria has recently denied suggestions that its continued shut down of various churches in recent weeks and months is due to its persecution of Christians, though believers have claimed that the trend shows otherwise.

Mission Network News reported on Monday that at least three churches have been shut down in the last two weeks, with officials refusing to provide a clear reason why.

David Bogosian of Christian Aid Mission pointed out that as one of the biggest Muslim nations in the world, Algeria might be feeling threatened by the growth of Christianity.

“There’s one thing that is happening that some believers are thinking about that may be a cause for the persecution and that is that the second biggest mosque in the Muslim world is about to be launched in Algeria,” Bogosian shared.

“And you know, this has a lot of outside funding and it brings a lot of prestige to the country. So, there’s definitely an attempt by Algeria to gain prominence in the Islamic world. It’s thought that there’s a connection between the opening of that mosque and this persecution,” he added.

Mohamed Aissa, the Algerian Minister of Religious Affairs, denied in a statement last week that the shut down of the churches in the cities of Oran, Tizi Ouzou and Aïn Turk stems from a government crackdown.

Aissa told Ennahar TV that the churches “did not meet the standards required of a place of worship,” as translated by World Watch Monitor.

“The institutions that were closed have been closed down because they were built without complying with the regulations of the Republic,” the official added, positioning that even mosques would have to be closed if they fail to meet the guidelines.

“When a place of worship is built without any notice showing it’s a place of worship, which may enable the state to protect it, this place must be closed,” he added.

A spokesperson from the Protestant Church of Algeria pushed back against the denial, however, claiming that the government is implementing a controversial 2006 law that regulates the religious practice of non-Muslims, which forced 26 churches to close down in 2008.

“This law is a Sword of Damocles suspended above the churches. It is the legal instrument that the government uses to silence the Church. The purpose of this law is precisely to curb the activities of churches and to control them,” the spokesperson said.

“The content of this law focuses on the coercive side, conviction and sanction. This 2006 law was not aimed at helping Christian communities to comply with standards or to regularize themselves.”

Algeria finds itself at No. 42 on persecution watchdog group Open Doors USA’s World Watch List of nations where believers face the most persecution for their faith.

Open Doors states that the minority 68,000 Christians or so in the country face high persecution levels due to Islamic oppression, noting that government legislation severely restricts Christian worship and expression.

– christian post

Christian religious freedom campaigner: ‘Dark days for China’ as it abolishes presidential term limits

March 11, 2018 by  
Filed under Asia, newsletter-asia

China, March 11, 2018: A Christian religious freedom campaigner has said China’s parliament approving the removal of presidential term limits has paved the way for continued Christian persecution in the country that may worsen.

The National People’s Congress’ nearly 3,000 hand-picked delegates endorsed the constitutional amendment on Sunday, voting 2,958 in favour with two opposed, three abstaining and one vote invalidated.

It means President Xi Jinping can rule indefinitely.

Benedict Rogers, East Asia team leader at religious freedom charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said the vote is an “extremely significant development, which will in all likelihood mean a continuing crackdown on human rights generally, and religious freedom in particular”.

He added: “The past five years since Xi Jinping became president have seen the most severe and widespread crackdown on human rights since the Tiananmen massacre of 1989.

“In particular we have seen the arrest and disappearance of human rights lawyers, many of whom are Christians or have been involved in defending religious freedom, and increasing restrictions on religious freedom, including the destruction of thousands of crosses in Zhejiang province, the destruction of several churches, increasing persecution of other religious groups such as Uighur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists and Falun Gong, and the introduction of new regulations tightening rules on religious practice.”

The amendment overturns a system enacted by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1982 to prevent a return to the bloody excesses of a lifelong dictatorship typified by Mao Zedong’s chaotic 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution.

The constitution had until now limited presidents to serving only two consecutive terms.

Rodgers told Premier that now Xi Jinping is President for life and his power-base is strengthened, Christians in China can expect to see “continuing, perhaps increasing, repression”.

He added: “We also expect to see China to use its increasing power to act to prevent progress on human rights around the world. These are very dark days for China – with very serious implications for the world.”

A number of prominent Chinese figures have publicly protested against the move, despite the risk of official retaliation.

– premier

3 Dangerous “Honesty” apps our kids are using

March 11, 2018 by  
Filed under Miscellaneous, newsletter-miscellaneous

Most likely to succeed? Best smile? Cutest couple? These were questions once reserved for the high school yearbook. No more. Now, a new breed of massively popular apps targeted to teens lets them poll one another on everything from their new haircut to their popularity any time they get the urge for validation. (Read: All the time.) This may be troubling enough for some parents, but the truly disturbing part is that these “honesty apps” are designed to deliver opinions anonymously. Developers argue that feedback is more honest if it’s anonymous. And judging from the near overnight popularity of these apps, teens seem to agree. The result? Honesty app users can posit questions such as “Am I pretty?” and be inundated with brutally “honest” answers, often with no ability to reply or block the person who has posted the response.

Here are three of the most popular “honesty apps,” along with everything you need to know about them.

#1. ASKfm: A Tool for Cruel?

What is ASKfm?

One of the original honesty apps, ASKfm is a social network that lets users anonymously ask / answer questions. People can’t see who is following them, but they can see the number of followers they have.

Who has ASKfm?

With more than 150 million users around the world, it’s estimated that 42% of its users are under age 17.

How does ASKfm work?

After creating an account, users can post an anonymous question. Then people who they are following can respond with a text, photo or video. Questions are asked anonymously, however answers to questions are identified by username and photo. ASKfm lets all users post their own questions. While many of them are positive in nature, not all are, and many request feedback on personal appearance with provocative images.

Why is ASKfm dangerous?

Founded in 2010 by Latvian brothers Ilja and Mark Terebin, AskFM was blamed for a rash of teen suicides. In 2014, ASKfm was purchased by the owners of Tinder and amid promises to invest “millions” into improving safety and to reduce cyberbullying. Its recently released feature Shoutout allows users to ask questions to fellow ASKfm-ers who are geographically close to them. This includes both people you follow, and those you don’t. It also means that you can receive questions from people who happen to be in your vicinity (example: your school, neighborhood, live music concert or other event).

What should I do if my child has an ASKfm account?

Be aware that there are no private accounts on ASKfm. Your child will not be able to see who is following them, and everything they post can be seen by everyone. Explain this to your child. It is also critical that your child understands that their profile is public and searchable beyond ASKfm. Their profile picture, background picture and posts can be found on Google. Given this, it is critical that their profile name does not contain their first or last name, even though the app will automatically generate their user name with their real name when creating an account. If your child links their ASKfm account to their Facebook account, friends will still be able to find their profile.

In order to disable Shoutout, follow the directions below:

From your child’s device, open the ASKfm app and tap upper left “hamburger” menu.
Tap Settings
Tap Account
Deselect Allow Shoutout

#2. TBH: Mostly Positive – For Now

What is the tbh app?

Released in August, the tbh app (which is short for “to be honest”) already has more than 5 million downloads, according to its developers and was just acquired by Facebook . The free app connects to your entire contact list, and then invites these people to anonymously partake in pre-written feel-good quizzes. Examples: Best shoulder to lean on; Makes you laugh the hardest; Should DJ every party, etc… When chosen to be in someone’s poll, you earn gems that can then be used to unlock additional features in the app.

Who has tbh?

Middle and high-schoolers are downloading the apps in droves. In fact, tbh is currently holding the Number 1 spot on iTunes for a free app, ahead of YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram.

What’s good about tbh?

The tbh app takes has mostly factored out the negativity found in other anonymous apps. The polls are by turns clever and silly, and use enough teen slang to feel relevant and fun to kids. Furthermore, users can customize their own polls, but they won’t go up immediately. Instead, the app must approve each poll before it’s published, in order to ensure that the quiz is uplifting/silly in nature and not mean spirited.

What’s bad about tbh?

While the polls may be feel-good in nature, parents may not feel as positive about the fact that the tbh app links to users’ entire contact list. Worse, it prompts kids to not simply select their grade level in school, but also to select their actual school. This is ostensibly so that polls will include fellow students, but that may be too much information for many parents. Furthermore, unlike other social media apps where you can choose not to connect to your entire contact list, that option does not exist with tbh.

What’s in store for tbh?

For now, there is no direct messaging among users, but that could change in the future. And if that’s the case, its positivity-only promise could be hard to keep.

#3. Sarahah: Possibly Most Dangerous of All

What is the Sarahah?

Translated from Arabic as “frankness” or “candor,” this is another “honesty” app that is considered by many to be the most likely to facilitate cyberbullying. Teens can connect this app to their Snapchat account and then send and receive completely anonymous “feedback” to and from friends and strangers.

Who has Sarahah:

With almost 100 million registered users, its biggest market is now the U.S.

How does Sarahah work?

Unlike ASKfm, where users receive anonymous questions, with Sarahah, you receive anonymous in coming messages from friends and other users. And while anonymous compliments are common, there have also been reports of anonymous death threats and sexual harassment. Unlike tbh, comments are entirely unmonitored. Receive an upsetting message? There’s no reply function on the app.

Recent changes to Sarahah

The company recently added a new tool to let users block messages from senders who may have sent offensive messages. When blocking a contact, Sarahah won’t reveal who sent the message but will make sure they are not able to send any more.

What Can You Do about It?

We’re well aware that no parent is able to physically supervise their children online anymore. For parents looking for a safe way to monitor their kids’ phones without restricting total access, there’s a new app developed specifically for that purpose: Forcefield.

It offers features such as an “App Sleeper,” allowing you to remotely turn off apps, games, and social networks on all of your kids’ mobile devices from your own phone. It also includes an activity report, “safe browsing” mode, a curated library of reviewed websites, an app report, and even the ability to recieve continually updated location reports on your child’s whereabouts.

– cross walk

Women told they are ‘abomination,’ ‘evil’ for leading church, tempting men: Report

March 11, 2018 by  
Filed under lead story, newsletter-lead

U.S., March 11, 2018: Over 60 percent of Christian women in the U.K. have said in a survey that they have experienced sexism in the Church, while 75 percent insisted that God finds both men and women equal and able to preach His word.

A booklet on the poll results, titled “Minding the Gap,” released March 8 by the Sophia Network, a group which seeks to empower women in Church leadership, said that while most respondents, at 86 percent, feel like valued members of the Church family, there are still big problems to tackle.

The online survey, conducted between May and June 2017, based on 1,211 respondents, did not provide information about the margin of error.

It found that 75 percent of those who responded would identify as egalitarian, meaning they believe that men and women are equal, and that God gives both genders the authority to preach, as opposed to those who say that men should serve as the spiritual leaders of the church and the family.

Sixty-two percent said that they have experienced sexism in the Church, with anonymous women sharing of the experiences they have been subjected to.

One woman said that she was told that her infertility was “down to my maternal grandmother’s sin, when it fact it is because I was raped. I cannot describe the lioness anger that the consequence of a male sin was attributed to my female family line.”

Another woman said: “When I felt initially called, the minister told me to get married and have children instead.”

“Being told my marriage would suffer if I went into church leadership, being told it was ‘an abominiation’ for a woman to lead the church, being harassed until I left my church and joined the Church of England,” said a third.

“Being described as ‘evil’ and having the ability to lead a male colleague into sin,” another account revealed.

Other findings in the survey were more positive. As many as 87 percent said that women are encouraged to use all their gifts, including teaching, at their churches; another 77 percent said that there are female deacons or elders at their church.

Fifty-nine percent had at least one female minister, and only nine percent said that a woman has never taught a service at their church.

When it comes to the barriers facing women in the Church, institutional sexism was listed at the very top, singled out by 53 percent of the respondents. Lack of female mentoring and leaders came in at second place at 46 percent, and lack of theological understanding at 42 percent.

“The Minding the Gap report gives valuable insight into the experiences of women in the U.K. church. It is easy to rely on hearsay and feeling when it comes to gender equality, and this welcome report provides much needed facts,” said Amanda Jackson, Executive Director for the Women’s Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance.

“The picture from the report is hopeful because things are changing, but also reminds us that the biblical understating of the equality of women and men still needs to grow,” she adds.

“And along with that, men and women need to work actively to provide opportunities for women to use all their gifts. The Church can be a shining light countering discrimination, sexism, and gender violence — this report helps us all to see what we are doing and what we still need to learn.”

Female Christian leaders and authors in the U.S., such as Beth Moore and Jen Hatmaker, have also joined hundreds of evangelical women in calling out sexual and psychological abuse in the American Church.

“Fundamentally, we understand violence against any individual, regardless of their ethnicity, creed or gender, to be a matter of our Christian faith. Genesis 1:26 declares that all people are made in the image of God, both men and women,” read a statement on the #SilenceIsNotSpiritual campaign website, launched in December 2017.

“Women are equally called and created with the full potential and capacity to steward the world. All abuse disfigures human dignity and distorts the image of God,” it added.

– christian post

Three children killed as Syrian rebels rocket Christian school in Damascus

March 11, 2018 by  
Filed under newsletter-world, World

Syria, March 8, 2018: Three children at an Armenian Christian school in the Syrian capital Damascus were killed on Tuesday 6 March after rockets fired from East Ghouta hit the school.

Many Christian families are now understood to have left Damascus to take shelter in villages after weeks of rocket attacks from the rebel-held enclave, which is controlled by multiple jihadist factions.

Humanitarian aid convoys entered East Ghouta earlier this week following the announcement of a ceasefire brokered by the United Nations. The two largest rebel groups in East Ghouta stated that they would adhere to the UN’s demand for a suspension of hostilities, but this has not led to a cessation of rocket attacks on Christian areas in Damascus.

The targeting of Christian areas by rebels has been almost entirely ignored by Western media.

– barnabas persecution update

Enraged Hindu mob attacks Christians exiting bus to attend worship camp

March 11, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Bihar, March 9, 2018: Two Christian men were hospitalized after being attacked and beaten by an enraged Hindu mob while on their way to a Christian camp in Eastern India, as persecution against Christian missionaries continues to escalate.

According to the Christian persecution news outlet Morning Star News, the attack occurred on Feb. 26 after Christians aboard a bus bound for the city of Bettiah in the Bihar state told passengers onboard their reason for traveling.

However, not everyone onboard was pleased with the fact that they were talking about their faith and the Christian camp.

One angry Hindu reportedly began to argue with the Christians on the bus, most of whom were women and children.

The man accused the Christians of “always converting innocent and poor villagers,” an accusation similar to the ones that other Christians have faced in the past year, especially those traveling to Christian conferences and camps in India.

It is believed that the Hindu man made phone calls to Hindu nationalist groups because once the bus arrived at the station, a group of about 60 to 70 Hindu extremists were there waiting.

According to a local source who spoke with Morning Star News, two Christian men were separated from the group and severely beaten. Those Christians are D. Joseph, a missionary for the Gospel Echoing Missionary Service, and a Christian man named Baldev Singh.

“It was evident from the mob that it was a pre-planned attack,” Pastor Mariosh Joseph, the coordinator of the missionary service, told the outlet. “There was a media person present to record and publish the entire episode in the media, along with the Hindu extremist mob.”

Pastor Joseph explained that D. Joseph sustained a number of injuries, causing him to go into a deep state of shock. Meanwhile, Singh also had to be hospitalized due to minor injuries. Singh suffered inner-ear damage that led him to suffer hearing loss.

“The [radical Hindu] groups are specially instructed to hit in a way that [doesn’t cause external bleeding], but cause gruesome injuries internally,” Pastor Joseph told Morning Star News.

Another church leader told the outlet that the mob interrogated the Christians about their purpose for being in the town.

GEMS zonal superintendent Pastor Palanivelu told the outlet that the mob accused the Christians of coming to the town to lure “innocent and poor villagers with money and benefits” in order to “fool them into becoming Christians.”

However, D. Joseph denied the allegations and told the attackers about the camp they were planning to go to, which took place as planned from Feb. 26–28.

“Even being in a public place, no one came to their rescue, and passersby were mere spectators as the mob beat both the Christians mercilessly, while the other Christian teammates cried for help,” Palanivelu said.

Even after nearby police officers responded to the violence, the mob reportedly outnumbered the cops until backup arrived.

“Some of the women got so frightened that they fled the site and returned home from the bus station itself without attending the camp,” Palanivelu said.

Palanivelu added that a total of 11 women who were on the bus went to the camp.

The attack in Bettiah comes as India ranks as the 11th-worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s 2018 World Watch List. Most of the violence against Christians in the country come at the hands of Hindu radical groups.

“These radicals are intent on cleansing the nation of both Islam and Christianity and employ violence to this end,” Open Doors explains. “Usually, converts to Christianity experience the worst persecution and are constantly under pressure to return to Hinduism.”

Advocates warn that Hindu radicals have been emboldened by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government.

A recently released report by the Religious Liberty Commission of the Evangelical Fellowship of India highlights over 351 cases of Christian persecution in India in 2017.

“Of late there have been a lot of incidents that have been happening against Christian believers,” Pastor Joseph said. “Even if there is a disagreement, violence is not a way.”

GMES reports that there were at least 12 cases of persecution against its missionaries last year.

According to Pastor Joseph, Bettiah police initially were investigating the Hindu attack on the Christians exiting the bus as a case of forcible conversion. Joseph said that he was told later by the police superintendent that they are now treating the situation as a case of human trafficking.

Joseph added that although police recorded the statement of the two hospitalized men, they did not file an official report.

“The police, in most of the cases, are biased and try to see how they can frame the victims, rather than doing the other way around,” Joseph was quoted as saying.

– christian post

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