Indian Church Leader Warns of More Violence to Come

Wednesday, January 10, 2001

by Michael Fischer

HONG KONG (Compass) -- A prominent Indian church leader is warning of a possible bloodbath against Christians by Hindu fundamentalists.

In an exclusive interview with Compass Direct, Joseph D'Souza, president of the All India Christian Council, said that although everything seems quiet on the surface, the violence, harassment and terrorization against Christians continues in India.

"All major missions or denominations -- both Catholic and Protestant -- have reported some form of harassment." D'Souza believes the Sangh Parivar, an alliance of Hindu groups, has been working hard to curb Christian mission and activity.

Referring to the recent call by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Sudershan for the Indianization of the church, D'Souza says it is not a call that will unite the country, but a call that will divide the country.

"We rejected the concept of the "swadeshi" church (Indian church). Sudarshan and his gang are anti-national, and the call for Indianization of the church will only lead to deeper division," D'Souza said.

D'Souza also said that Christian workers in the rural and interior areas are terrorized and afraid. He says that he has received death threats and has been named in the RSS magazine "Organiser" as a target.

"There have been threats to lives with phone calls and letters and harassment in terms of carrying our own mission work," he said.

When asked about the Sangh Parivar's allegation of Christians forcibly converting Hindus, D'Souza said he rejects the charge.

"I have been in Christian missions for 30 years. I lead an organization of about 1,000 Indian nationals. Not once in these years have we made an attempt to make anybody a Christian, either by offering jobs, clothes, rice, etc. Never have we attempted to convert anybody by force."

D'Souza appealed to Christians around the world to continue raising the issue of persecution of Christians with the Indian government.

"We are fighting for Christians to live with dignity and freedom in India," he said. "Threats come, but we have to counter it."

Copyright © 2001 Compass Direct News Service. Used with permission.