by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - Sixteen Christian families from a church in India’s Jharkhand were physically threatened every night for nearly three weeks by gangs of animist worshippers demanding they reconvert to the Sarna religion, Morning Star News reported on May 26. The families (around 130 people) have ancestral connections to the religion, whose followers worship a god called Dharmes.
Pastor Sarabjit Bharati of the Kirpa Bhavan Salom Church in the Palamu District told Morning Star News that bands of local villagers armed with clubs had been terrorizing the families. “The persecutors were going with batons and wooden sticks, not giving the Christians any chance to say no, but emphasizing that either they reconvert to the Sarna fold or they would kill them right then and there. They purposely went in the dark so that none of the [outlying] Christians would be able to reach the families to help and support them,” the pastor said. Around 250 to 300 people from the area attend Bharati’s church.
After previous police warnings failed to stop the threatening sieges, on May 7 fourteen families filed a complaint at the Patan police station. Ten officers came to the village, Bharati told Morning Star News. “The team that visited this time sternly warned the villagers of adverse consequences if they ‘dared to knock at one more house at night. Since then, the villagers have not gone to any house and created havoc,” Bharati said.
Christians living in the area have been dealing with pressure to reconvert for some time. However, Bharati stated, the death threats presented a new level of terror. Christian resident Malti Devi told Morning Star News: “Every night we shook with fear with the thought of being attacked and killed by the mob.”
India currently ranks 10th on the Open Doors 2020 World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.