Wall Street’s Financial Crisis is not the only one in the world.
The last six weeks have seen a wave of anti-Christian violence in the Indian state of Orissa. Here’s a hint of what’s been happening, courtesy of www.barnabasfund.org.:
Hindu extremist violence against the Christian community in Orissa State, India, which started on 24 August (see previous articles : 12/09/2008, 01/09/2008), has continued almost unabated since then. At least 50 Christians have been murdered, some cut to pieces and others burnt alive. Many fear that the death toll is even higher, with one estimate suggesting that 120 Christians have been killed. About 18,000 people have been injured, many of them severely; numerous Christian women have been raped; some 4,400 homes have been destroyed; 300 villages have been cleansed of all Christians; and several orphanages and hundreds of churches and church buildings have been torched and razed. Relief camps, where Christians have fled for safety and shelter, have been attacked and drinking water has been poisoned.
Over 50,000 Christians are thought to be homeless, and around 30,000, more than half of them children, are hiding in the jungle, many without any food and water. Starvation is a very real danger for many of them, especially for the children, the elderly and the sick. Christians wanting to return to their homes have been told by the Hindu extremists: “Come back as Hindu or don’t come back at all.” Many who dare to return to their villages are forcibly converted to Hinduism. Sometimes the Hindu extremists pour petrol over the Christians and then ask them to convert; if they refuse they will be burnt.
And still the government shows itself reluctant to act. Although there has been talk of banning the Bajrang Dal, one of the Hindu nationalist groups responsible for the gruesome acts, and of imposing presidential rule over Orissa, no action has been taken. Additional police and a helicopter have been sent to the area, which has helped to improve conditions in at least some districts, but officials still advise journalists and members of NGOs (non-governmental organisations) not to go into the affected areas as they cannot provide protection.
“The sheer scale of the ongoing anti-Christian violence in Orissa, and the reluctance of federal, state and local authorities to act and protect the Christians is a serious and deeply disturbing development in Indian society,” says Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund. “The Indian Christian community, not only in Orissa but also in other Indian states, is facing one of its worst crises. The attempt by Hindu extremists to turn India into a Hindu state and drive out Christianity by whatever means must be stopped. We must stand and pray with our brothers and sisters through this dark time, and offer them all the help we can.”
Are you as surprised as I am that the persecution is at the hands of Hindus, whom we normally regard as exceptionally tolerant? Are you also surprised that this story barely registers a blip on the media radar?
Our church is blessed with many people from India who are part of our worshipping congregation. Their hearts are heavy during these days and this persecution.
You can find ways to be directly involved at www.barnabasfund.org.