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Court Inquiry Underway on Church Attacks

Gospel for Asia
05/13/09 KARNATAKA, INDIA (ANS) — A court in Karnataka, India, has appointed a commission to “conduct an inquiry into the causes of attack and preventative measures” after anti-Christian extremists went on a rampage in the state last fall. The outcome of the commission’s findings is a serious concern for the Christian churches in the area.

The government ordered the commission to seek testimony from churches affected by the rampage. More than 800 churches responded by submitting an affidavit describing the attacks on their church. More than half of the churches that told their stories to the commission are led by GFA-supported pastors.

GFA’s Karnataka state leader was summoned to appear before the commission in February, but only five of the 20 church representatives were able to be heard that day. He is now waiting for his next invitation to appear.

The state leader said it appears that the commission is not really trying to help or understand the churches and their situation, nor are they trying to provide any compensation for the churches that were burned down. Instead, the commission is seemingly using its power to further the agenda of those who want to implement an anti-conversion law in the state.

For instance, at the first hearing, the commission allowed a representative of the extremists to cross-examine the five church representatives for more than two hours each, using all the time allotted for the hearing that day. Additionally, commission members appear to be sticking to the idea that the churches were fair targets because they are forcing people to convert to Christianity. They are also using this sentiment as a basis for arguments in favor of anti-conversion legislation.

Karnataka has a long history of violence against Christians. Last fall, anti-Christian extremist violence in Orissa spilled over into Karnataka. Prior to that, Christians were routinely harassed, assaulted and arrested. Anti-Christian extremists have also vandalized a GFA-supported Bible college and arrested missionaries working in the state.

GFA leaders in Karnataka shared the following prayer requests:

. Pray that the Lord will give wisdom to the lawyers who are appearing on behalf of the churches to present their cases well, constitutionally and with boldness.

. Pray for Karnataka’s government leaders, who have been pushing anti-conversion legislation for some time. The court-appointed commission appears to be supporting this move.

. Pray for the witnesses who are representing the various churches. Pray that the Lord will give grace and wisdom to each of them to present their cases very well.

. Pray that the freedom of proclaiming and practicing one’s faith will prevail in the state of Karnataka and that all the constitutional rights will be upheld by every lawmaker.

. Pray for the commission’s leader and his colleagues, that God will give them His divine wisdom and understanding and that they will present favorable reports that will ensure the rights of Christians and other minorities.