India (MNN) — Persecution against Christians in India continues to grow. Now it's affecting churches in states traditionally kind to Christians.
The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) (www.persecution.org) has just learned that a church that has attracted thousands of Hindu converts is now the target of strenuous Hindu opposition. The church, called Heavenly Feast, currently has nearly 15,000 members and is meeting in a tent in Kottayam, a city in the state of Kerala, India.
A Hindu group had their own prayer building close to the Heavenly Feast tent and started growing concerned when some of their members converted to Christianity. They have been hosting rallies for the last month and have partially destroyed the tent of the Christians, stopping a ministry of the church that fed 1,500 people every day.
ICC's President Jeff King says, "A lot of Hindus had converted to Christianity through the church. That upset the Hindu radicals, and they were agitating with the local government to shut the church down. So the local government back in early July said the church had to close down."
On July 6, members of the Hindu group were trying to stop the public from going into the Heavenly Feast tent and were abusing church-goers with foul language as they entered the tent.
During one of the services, the Hindu party began to throw stones into the tent, injuring 25 people.
Police arrived and fired rubber bullets to clear out the crowd and diffuse the situation. Police stopped families from going into the tent to protect them.
As a result, the head of the district, the District Collector, declared a 10-day curfew on the area. She said that until the property issue of the church is resolved, the church cannot meet. The curfew bans people from gathering in groups within 500 meters of the local district office, Hindu SMBP office, and the Heavenly Feast tent.
King says while India's constitution grants religious freedom, Hindu extremists don't see it that way. "There is a mindset there that India is Hindu, and Hinduism is for India. And there's a lot of propaganda that goes out with hatred toward Christians where Christians are associated with the CIA, they're trying to take over the country, and we need to defend mother India from Christianity."
Pastors in the area are afraid because it is believed that the Hindu party has a hidden plan to continue attacks on other churches.
Despite the attacks, King says, "There's a famous old saying that says, 'The blood of the martyr is the seed of the church.' We see that the world over. Wherever the church is oppressed, it tends to grow faster. When there's a cost to the Gospel, people then are truly on fire for God and the Gospel really spreads."