Has your church or youth group started meeting together in-person again? Perhaps you’ve been gathering together for a while, but only now are some protective measures starting to be removed and things are beginning to get back to normal?
For Indian Christians, there isn’t such a thing as ‘normal’. Increasingly, there is the threat of Hindu extremist mobs attacking – causing injury, devastation and fear.
Recently a Sunday church service in Chhattisgarh State was attacked. There were about 60 Christians in the congregation, including children – and 100-200 people in the mob. The attackers beat the men, assaulted the women, broke the altar and placed Hindu idols in the church, worshipping them. The invaders reportedly shouted “Jai Shri Ram” (“Glory to Lord Rama” – a Hindu god).
When some women in the church asked why they were victims of this attack, they were told: “You were born in India – you have to remain Hindus and worship Hindu gods.”
The church has been active for the last 20 years and, until now, has never had any problems. This recent horrifying attack is part of a rising trend of raids on Christian services. There have been almost daily protests against Christians across the state for the past month. On 19 September, members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a nationalist Hindu paramilitary group, rallied across Raipur city.
“They shouted slogans against pastors and other Christians, telling them they would be expelled from the country if they did not stop converting people,” a local Christian told Open Doors.
The current cycle of unrest also had a surge in early September, when police arrested two members of the BJP’s youth wing after an attack on a pastor and two other Christians in the state capital, Raipur. In response, the BJP and other Hindu-nationalist groups falsely accused the church’s pastor and church members of forcing Hindus to convert to Christianity, and called for their arrests.
“We need fervent prayers as these protests have been going on for more than a month now and has seen the involvement of hundreds of people daily,” the local believer told Open Doors. “It can trigger riots and more severe incidents in the region and all over the country.”
Across the country, false accusations of forced conversion are used to harass and target Christians, and physical attacks are used to intimidate congregations and try to stop them meeting – despite religious freedom being supposedly guaranteed in India.
*Names changed for security reasons…
Please keep praying for our family in India.
For protection as believers in India gather to worship God
For the Indian government to recognise and adhere to its commitment to religious freedom in the country.
That truth and justice would win over false accusations of forced conversion
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