Friday, November 27, 2015

Christian Growth & Persecution In India

November 24, 2015  
By Tom Olago

The Salvation Army India
Crowd waiting for Christian worship service to begin -  SA church is in the background-

India is the Salvation Army's oldest Mission field having commenced in Bombay on September 19th, 1882.  

Today The Salvation Army has more than 1,000 churches, 110 schools and colleges, institutions and hospitals and a quater million members and supporters located throughout the country.

Paris may still be fresh in our minds, but not many may remember that seven years back, massive waves of attack on religious grounds took place in Orissa, India. The aftermath of the massacre of Indian Christians in 2008 was gruesome indeed – nearly 100 dead, 56,000 people homeless, 300 churches and 6,000 homes raided and looted. A number of Christian women, as well as nuns, were also raped in the attacks.

The Hindu mob had reportedly organized violence against Christians whom they accused of converting Indians to Christianity. The riots targeted Dalits, also known as the "Untouchables" in the lowest caste system, because many had made the decision to convert to Christianity.

A recent Christian Post account further revealed that an inquiry into that massacre has concluded its investigation and is set to publish its findings amid reports that Hindu extremism is rising again. It is expected that the details of the worst anti-Christian violence in India's history will be finally be published in December.

The speed of completing the process of investigation seems to have suffered from political or administrative interference. Judge A.S. Naidu, head of the Commission of Inquiry, explained that "because of the lack of cooperation of many stakeholders, including the government, it took almost seven years to finish the investigation."

Soon after the massacre, Human rights activist Jagadish G. Chandra also made comments that became self-fulfilling with regard to the speed of the investigative report’s finalization: "The celebration is an opportunity to reflect on the theme of growing intolerance orchestrated by Hindu extremist groups across the country, and how these ideas have infiltrated the government, police and courts, eroding the values of justice, equality, secularism and citizenship enshrined by the Constitution of India."

India is currently the second-most populous nation on earth, with over 1.2 billion residents and is expected to surpass that of China, currently the world’s most populous nation at 1.3 billion souls. 

Sadly, the specter of religious terrorism in India has been rearing its ugly head again, targeting religious minorities in the predominantly Hindu nation. Five churches in the Indian capital, New Delhi, have reported incidents of arson, vandalism and burglary. 

A recent Fides report on Wednesday noted that Hindu extremists are stirring up tensions again, with the "Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh" (RSS) group accusing religions minorities, like Christians and Muslims, of "infiltration in Indian territory", of "political conversion", and for threatening the "unity, integrity and identity of the country."

Official data from recent demographic statistics seem to be what stirred the hornet’s nest for the RSS group. The numbers show that those who identify with the Hindu religion have fallen from 88 percent to 83.8, while the Muslim and Christian populations have been rising. The extremists noted that in some states, like in Arunachal Pradesh, the Christian population increased by nearly 13 percent in a single decade, which they claimed is evidence of "targeted religious conversion."

And they are right in that vein.  A report in 2013 showed that Ministries in India were reporting significant growth in the Christian Church among middle and upper caste Indians and the younger Indian generations.

According to Operation World, 74% of India’s populace identified as Hindu, 14% described themselves as Muslim, and 6% were Christian – reportedly over 71 million adherents. 

However, with an annual growth rate of nearly 4%, Christianity is by far the fastest-growing of all major religions in India.


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