Violent attacks on church members that have left more than 60 dead began in late August in southern India according to a report by the Church of Brethren in Christ released this week. The attacks lasted for 12 days and are believed by some to have been instigated by the regional government in attempt to heighten divisions in the region prior to a coming election.
According to a report in Ekklesia:
“There have been threats, beatings, and persecution for the last 20 years, but the [current] situation is very tense. People have been brutally murdered, hacked to death, women have been gang raped, and more than 100 churches in all six districts have been burned. Brethren in Christ members have been attacked but not killed,” he reports.
[…]In August 2008, a crowd of up to 4,000 Hindu militants attacked the Brethren in Christ Girls Hostel at Nuagoan, one of nine such facilities funded through the Scholarship Program for International Children’s Education (SPICE). The mob set the hostel and church ablaze, destroyed its water tank, and demolished the campus. Ten policemen who were on guard at the hostel fled when they saw the approaching crowd. Staff, girls, and local believers, some of whom were beaten, managed to flee. The Cuttack-based offices of the Brethren in Christ Church in India were also a target, and several pastors and church planters lost all their belongings when their homes were looted and burned.
People, including pastors, who are still hiding in the forest have lost everything. They have no clothes, no food and are at risk of snake bites and malaria. They have no medication. It is not yet safe to help them,’ says the church leader. Anyone offering assistance would be at risk, he notes.”
Read the full article here.
Some Christians have responded with violence according to The Times.
Beleaguered Christians in India have “run out of cheeks to be struck” a senior Anglican bishop declared yesterday, on hearing reports that a Christian mob had hacked a Hindu to death in the troubled state of Orissa.
Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, called for peace, and said that the murder, conducted by a knive-wielding mob of 50 Christians, could not be condoned. But he told The Times: “For months now, scores of Christians have been killed, homes, convents and presbyteries have been burnt down to the ground.”