Believer Murdered, Pastor Clubbed in South India

Thursday, August 7, 2003

August 7, 2003 (Missions Insider) -- Hindu extremists clubbed a Christian believer to death in Karnataka state recently, beat another pastor till he was unconscious, and then hindered relatives from conducting Christian burials.

Even though Karnataka itself does not yet have an anti-conversion law, the presence of an anti-conversion law adopted last fall in neighboring Tamil Nadu-and similar laws in four northern states of Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Gujarat and Arunachal Pradesh-is thought to have lent a permissive atmosphere for such violence.

The leader of a ministry based in Tamil Nadu told Christian Aid that an 80-year-old man and former member of the local governing body of a village in Karnataka became a Christian, was baptized, and died about ten days later. The local officials and Hindu leaders insisted he have a Hindu funeral. Only after the family members threatened to commit suicide was the body released for Christian rites.

Because of the animosity towards Christians, several families quit coming to the local church worship meetings and worshiped privately at home. One day as the wife in one family was hanging out laundry to dry, radicals barged into the house and clubbed her husband to death. Then they strung a rope around his neck and tied his body to the roof to feign a suicide. Local Hindus insisted on giving the body a Hindu funeral.

The mission leader also said a pastor converted from the ranks of the Gypsies was attacked in Tamil Nadu state in late May. Hoodlums came to the village and without warning clubbed the pastor with a log until he lay unconscious. The pastor said later when he opened his eyes they were beating his son like savages.

After this the attackers forced the two men to go to the police station, where authorities warned them to stop converting people to Christianity. On hearing of the incident, other pastors in the area rushed to plead their case with the officials. In the end, local authorities said the pastor
could preach inside his own house to his own family, but not to others.

Another team was taking the gospel to remote hill-tribes who live in an area inhabited by wild elephants when some educated youths interrupted and demanded that they stop preaching. The youths threatened to put the team members in jail if they did not leave.

"Yet after seeing us and hearing the gospel, the tribal people have started to believe in Jesus and trust Him for healings and miracles," the leader said. One tribal woman reportedly was healed of paralysis in her hand and leg, and another was healed of severe wounds and sores on her legs and hands.

The mission leader, who also pastors a church, said, "More people are coming to our church after the law was passed and are getting saved." His church currently has 400 members.

Under the ruling radical Hindu party, Hindu extremists seem to be able to perpetrate violence against Christians with impunity. Their actions violate India's constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion. A group of Christians in Orissa have banded together to fight the implementation of the anti-conversion act in that state. They are determined to take their case all the way to the Supreme Court.