India (MNN) — Last week, we introduced the news that Karnataka was named India's most dangerous state for Christians, and gave examples of how persecution happens there. Today, we'll dig deeper into our investigation of this phenomenon, to try and better understand why it happens.
The Evangelical Fellowship of India named Karnataka State "India's most unsafe place for believers" in 2011 for the third consecutive year. Spokesman for Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India, Don Edwards, says the pronouncement came as no real shock.
"We are aware that there is a Hindu fundamentalist government in control of the state of Karnataka. Usually that indicates there will be increased opposition against the Christian community," says Edwards.
Edwards adds that similar persecution is taking place in Andhra Pradesh. Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are both concerned southern states. "What's unusual this year, I guess, is the amount of persecution occurring in Southern India."
The high tendency toward persecution is odd because the south is actually most likely to be associated with Christian presence, says Edwards. But what raises even more cause for confusion is that "neither of these States have anti-conversion laws on the books."
Five Indian states have laws prohibiting citizens to convert from one religion to another. It would be feasible to assume that those states, then, would be most prone toward persecution.
Whether there is more persecution in these states because of a fundamentalist government, or because there are a large number of Christians to be persecuted, one thing is certain: the church is growing all throughout India, and persecution won't stop it.
"I would say as a general rule, when persecution happens, faithful followers of Jesus Christ are only strengthened in their resolve to communicate the love of Christ to these people who desperately need to know a Savior," confirms Edwards.
Karnataka and its believers need prayer. Pray for courage and faithfulness as believers are attacked verbally, emotionally, and sometimes physically. Pray in particular for a group of believers that is going to court tomorrow. Read more about the harassment this group has faced.