By BosNewsLife News Center
NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) -- Hindu militants have threatened to burn to death an Indian evangelical pastor and his family if they don't close their Pentecostal church and leave a suburb of Bangalore, India's third largest city, Christian supporters said Monday, August 20.
Pastor Koshy Thomas and wife Elcy Thomas, both in their 30s, and daughter Tincy, 8, and son Jason, 2, were moved to a "safe place" after receiving the threats this weekend in Yelahanka, where they have been living for five years, said Sajan George, the President of advocacy group Global Council of Indian Christians.
The pastor and his wife "have a church close to their house, and have been conducting worship service of the Indian Pentecostal Church for about one year," serving about 50 believers, he added.
The problems began Saturday August 18, when a group of Hindu radicals allegedly threatened and intimidated pastor Thomas Koshy asking him to stop his Christian activities. Militants of Hindu radical group 'Hindu Ikyavedi' "threatened to burn them to death if they do not vacate the house and stop worship," George said in a statement to BosNewsLife.
They apparently returned Sunday, August 19, while congregation assembled for prayers. "The pastor had not yet arrived when [the militants] barged in, abused the believers in filthy language, and assaulted the pastors wife [and] a believer, Mr. Moses," George said.
"They snatched the Bible from another man's hand and flung it out [and] ordered all the believers out and locked the church from outside. The believers and the pastor's family rushed to the pastor's home nearby. The attackers followed them even into the house and threatened that they will burn the house. The pastor and family have been moved to safe place," he added.
After the pastor and believers left, the militants vandalized the church and drew Hindu symbols and slogans on the building, George said. Local police allegedly refused to intervene, saying the pastor should stop conducting worship services. "The pastor and his family are not able to return home due to the threat and are still staying with some friends," George claimed.
The threats are taken seriously as in January 1999 Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons Philip, 10, and Timothy, eight, were burnt to death by another mob of Hindu militants in the state of Orissa. The crowd accused him of forcibly converting poor Hindus to Christianity. George told BosNewsLife his organization has been sending aid to the Thomas' family "to help them in this difficult situation," and urged supporters "to pray for the family."
--It came after other recent reports of persecution including in Karnataka where Hindu militants allegedly of the Hindu groups Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or 'World Hindu Council' on Indiaâ€™s Independence Day of August 15 reportedly raided a church, disrupting worship and forcibly taking believers to police.
--Elsewhere in Hindu militants of the Ram Sena, or Army of Lord Ram, on August 9 reportedly beat independent pastor Victor Paul, 46, after he and his wife Glory Shanti were distributing Gospel tracts at houses in the Jala Nagar area of Karnataka's Bijapur district.
--Earlier this month about 50 Hindu militants disrupted the Sunday worship service of a church and attacked the pastor and an elder on in Chhattisgarh state on August 5, Christian news agency Compass Direct News reported citing the Christian Legal Association (CLA).
--Masked men are reportedly also involved in attacks against Christians. In the state of Rajasthan an estimated 200 masked men on August 4 demolished a parish house under construction at the Chavand area, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the Udaipur area, said The Hindu news paper monitored by Compass Direct News. Five armed people elsewhere in the state reportedly also beat up a worker of mission group Emmanuel Mission International (EMI) and threatened to kill EMI founder Archbishop M.A. Thomas and his son, EMI President Samuel Thomas. The attack on July 25 happened in Deen Ganj Mandi area in Rajasthan stateâ€™s Kota district, said Compass Direct News, citing an EMI attorney. The EMI has received threats in the past, BosNewsLife established.
There has been concern among Hindu groups about the spread of Christianity in India, a mainly Hindu nation of about 1.1 billion people. (With BosNewsLife Monitoring and reporting from India).
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