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GFA Leader Says Fringe Radicals Responsible for Persecution of Christians in India

ICC Note:

Dr. K.P. Yohannan, founder and president of Gopsel for Asia, reports on numerous incidents of persecution against Christians he has been made aware of over the past few weeks and suggests that “fringe radicals” may to be blame.

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1/13/2008 India (ChristianNewswire) Dr. K.P. Yohannan, founder and president of Gospel for Asia, says he is terribly disturbed by the increasing persecution of Christians in his homeland of India. And while it is evident that the rising tide of harassment and crimes against Christians is being carefully orchestrated by fundamentalist, nationalist religious groups, he says such behavior is not condoned by either Hinduism at large or by the vast majority of the Indian people.

Dr. Yohannan cited the reports he has received in just the past few weeks:

In the state of Jharkhand, radical Hindus beat up a 14-year-old girl and her mother, dragged them from their home and forced them to bow down before a man-made idol in an effort to force the girl to recant her faith. This was in spite of the fact that the girl considered the claims of the Gospel for three years and had her parents’ permission to become a Christian.

At least 60 church buildings and hundreds of Christian homes have been destroyed. As a result, many believers are sleeping on piles of hay with only the clothes they were wearing when they escaped–and temperatures are hovering around 50 degrees F (10o C).

A pastor was beaten, his head was shaved, he was paraded through the streets, forced to bow to an idol and had his home destroyed.

A 300-year-old Baptist church is said to be scheduled for attack next week, as are two villages that are 80 percent Christian.

“What the Christians in the West need to understand is that this recent violence is not just the result of random acts by local gangs. It is carefully planned by the leaders of a few extremely radical Hindu nationalist organizations that want to totally destroy the Church in India.

“Many of those who attack churches and Christians are not from the local village, but come from many miles away. Then they try to enlist local youths to join them, and the attack is on. But the problem is not really the local villagers, because they usually welcome our missionaries and appreciate what they are trying to do for them. Rather, it is the extremist political parties who are behind it and their street thugs who do the dirty work.”

One GFA regional leader said the violence in Orissa is part of a deliberate plan to break down the will of the Christians, cut them off from outside assistance and then, when they are left cold, hungry and alone, force them to deny Christ.

Dr. Yohannan went on explain why the radicals are attacking the poorest Christians.

“When we hear of these attacks, it is usually against Dalit or tribal Christians,” he pointed out. “These are the Untouchables and others at the bottom of the caste system, and they have been held in slave-like conditions for more than 3,000 years.

“So when the Dalits and tribals hear the Good News that God loves them as much as any other person in the world, it is a radical message. They are responding by the thousands–and many in the upper castes are not happy at the prospect of losing their ‘slaves.’

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