Mob violence against Christians on the rise in India

Wednesday the NY Times published an in-depth piece about the rise of anti-Christian mobs in India. The mobs routinely use “anti-conversion” laws as a pretense to beat and jail Christians. The attacks are being carried out by Hindu nationalists, sometimes with the help of local authorities.

Anti-Christian vigilantes are sweeping through villages, storming churchesburning Christian literatureattacking schools and assaulting worshipers. In many cases, the police and members of India’s governing party are helping them, government documents and dozens of interviews revealed. In church after church, the very act of worship has become dangerous despite constitutional protections for freedom of religion.

To many Hindu extremists, the attacks are justified — a means of preventing religious conversions. To them, the possibility that some Indians, even a relatively small number, would reject Hinduism for Christianity is a threat to their dream of turning India into a pure Hindu nation. Many Christians have become so frightened that they try to pass as Hindu to protect themselves…

“Christians are being suppressed, discriminated against and persecuted at rising levels like never before in India,” said Matias Perttula, the advocacy director at International Christian Concern, a leading anti-persecution group. “And the attackers run free, every time.”

The mob activities are being coordinated on social media apps. The Times spoke to a member of one of these Hindu groups who claimed there were 5,000 members who regularly planned raids on Christian churches. Inevitably, when the police finally show up they arrest the pastors, not the people forcing their way into the churches. It’s rare that anyone in the Hindu groups faces any kind of accountability.

B.J.P. comrades in the neighboring state of Chhattisgarh recently conducted several anti-Christian marches during which they belted out: “Converters! Let’s beat them with shoes!” In September, they did exactly that: A throng of young B.J.P. workers from the same chapter barged into a Chhattisgarh police station and hurled shoes at two pastors and beat them up — right in front of police officers.

“I slapped that pastor five or six times,” bragged Rahul Rao, a 34-year-old contractor and officer holder of the B.J.P. youth cell. “It was immensely satisfying.”…

A recently leaked letter, from a top police official in Chhattisgarh to his underlings, reads: “Keep a constant vigil on the activities of Christian missionaries.”

In some cases the Hindu majority uses social control to pressure Christians, such as refusing to let them enter Hindu homes or warning they won’t be able to buy anything at the local market unless they convert to Hinduism. Asked to explain this behavior one BJP member told the Times, “If we didn’t intervene, they would have converted this whole area by now.”

The story links to this video of one of these raids which took place in February. As you can see, the police and the local Hindu group seem to be carrying out the raid together.

Obviously, the government ought to shut down this persecution of a tiny and harmless minority, many of them lower caste people who have nothing. Christians make up just over 2 percent of the population of India. Credit where due to the NY Times for publishing this piece which concludes with a defiant pastor reading part of Luke 21 to a handful of villagers.

“They will seize you and persecute you,” he read, voice trembling.

“You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, sisters, relatives and friends,” he went on, tracing the passages with his finger. “They will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me.”

For Christians in many parts of India, Jesus’ words to his followers aren’t at all symbolic.