India: Violence against Christians spreads beyond Orissa

( [email protected] ) Sep 18, 2008 04:00 AM EDT

A wave of brutal attacks on Christians in India’s eastern state of Orissa has unleashed yet more violence against believers in other parts of the country.

According to Gospel for Asia (GFA), churches are under attack in Jharkhand and Karnataka, a state on India’s west coast.

On Sunday, at least 11 churches in Karnataka were destroyed by Hindu mobs.

One GFA missionary reported that his church had been set on fire by a mob of extremists, whilst another GFA missionary said that extremists had smashed windows, lights and broken musical instruments in an attack on his church.

“India is in a scary situation,” says GFA president, KP Yohannan. “But we know that, in the end, the future is bright because Jesus is with His church.”

The Evangelical Fellowship of India said that Hindu mobs had shot dead four police officers and set fire to a police station in Orissa’s riot-hit Kandhamal district.

Christians continue to hold prayer meetings and protests against the violence. Thousands have sought refuge in makeshift government camps.

Secretary General of the All India Christian Council, John Dayal, said that the “military precision” of churches in Mangalore, Karnataka, implied “meticulous” planning by the extremists.

The EFI said that around 50 people had so far been arrested by police in connection with the attacks on the churches.

Yohannan stressed that the violence was being perpetrated by Hindu extremists, as opposed to peaceful mainstream Hindus.

"These people do not represent the majority of Hindus, or of the Indian people at large," said Yohannan. "This violence is led by a small group of fanatics who are bringing a bad name to India. We must pray for the people of India, and for their leaders, that peace will return to this land."