Extremists use Bible translation mistake to foment anti-Christian sentiment

By October 27, 2008

India (MNN) — Extremists in
India are stoking and spreading the flames of persecution over a Bible
translation mistake. 

President of
Words of Hope, David
Bast, says their radio ministry office is in Ranchi, Jharkhand state. They broadcast
Christian radio programs in several of the languages spoken in India including

That's why the latest report alarmed them. On October 20, Bast explains, "There was a
huge anti-Christian demonstration in the streets of Ranchi. People came from all over India, not just
this area, to protest this particular version of the Bible and to denounce
Christians, in general."

The controversy stems from one
word in the Oraon Bible translation. It centers on the translation of
Deuteronomy 12:2 which reads, "You shall surely destroy all the places where
the nations whom you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high
mountains and on the hills and under every green (spreading) tree."

The context of the passage deals
with the children of Israel approaching the end of the time they were wandering
in the desert after the exodus from Egypt. According to Words of Hope's Lee DeYoung, the passage in question is part
of God's instruction to the tribes concerning what they had to do to make the land
ready prior to entering Canaan. 

The term used for "spreading
tree" in Oraon happens to coincide with the name of the religion that the
tribal group practices. 

Extremists claim the point of the
passage is proof of a Christian effort to annihilate a particular Indian tribe
of people. They've spread the
mistranslation and roused thousands to their cause. Militants also demanded mass burnings of the
Bible throughout Jharkhand, as well as the renunciation of the first of the Ten

Bast says he's also been made
aware of a demand for public punishment over the translation mistake.  While the translation troubles did not come
from Words of Hope, ministries like theirs are affected.

"The Christians in this city
are asking us to pray for them to defuse the tensions here, and they're acting
in concert to try to negotiate with more reasonable elements the unreasonable
demands that are being placed upon them."

The Bible Society has publicly
apologized for the mistake and corrected it, but the pressure is high.  There have been scattered reports of those
who have been attacked as they came out of hiding and tried to go back to their

Extremists have been reported to
be lying in wait and forcing them to reject their faith. "Christians have renounced the faith and
gone back to Hinduism. It's the only way to save their lives to be able to come
back into their homes." Keep
praying for believers and for those in ministry that their faith remains strong
throughout this time.

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