Thursday, October 16, 2008
Blessed are the Martyrs who Die in the Lord Henceforth
If you are at all a student of Christian history, you will know there have been numerous martyrdoms of Christians in every age of the Christian era. You don't even need to consult a hagiographic work like Foxe's Book of Martyrs to know this is true.
I was in Turkey two years ago when some indigenous Christians in the eastern part of the country were brutally murdered by their Muslim neighbors.
This week we have the report in the NY Times of similar murders in India by Hindus. Here is the link:
Christians are forced to renounce their faith in exchange for safety, or else face marytrdom. This has been going on for weeks in India, but our national news of course has hardly mentioned the fact. This ought to be stunning to us since India is the world's largest democracy and officially a tolerant secular state. Hindus make up the majority of citizens in India, whilst Christians are only about 2% of the population or so.
The article goes on to say that in the eastern state of Orissa, "in Kandhamal, the district that has seen the greatest violence, more than 30 people have been killed, 3,000 homes burned and over 130 churches destroyed, including the tin-roofed Baptist prayer hall where the Digals worshiped. Today it is a heap of rubble on an empty field, where cows blithely graze."
We need to pray for these folks, and for the cessation of the violence.
Posted by Ben Witherington at 9:34 AM
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I had this response from Mark Malloch-Brown, the British Minister of State for Foreign Affairs to whom I wrote about Orissa three weeks ago: "We condemn the recent attacks on innocent individuals that have led to the deaths, injuries and widespread displacements in Orissa. On 25 September the Indian Central Government ordered the Chief Secretary of Orissa State to take firm and effective steps to deal with these continued outbreaks of communal violence and bring the perpetrators to justice.
We welcome the Indian prime Minister’s unequivocal statements condemning these attacks, most recently on 29 September following the India EU summit. We also welcome the deployment of additional police in Orissa to restore law and order and the offer of compensation to victims. We were relieved to note the recent comments of local archbishops, state officials and police suggesting that the situation is slowly returning to normal, even though attacks are still being reported in Orissa, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. I officially conveyed our concern at the current situation to the Indian High Commissioner on 1 October.
Our High Commissioner in Delhi, with European and other partners, has been monitoring the current situation in Orissa and in neighbouring states. They also monitor issues of religious freedom in India more generally. Our staff have regular meetings with the Indian authorities to express our concern about all incidents of religious intolerance. We use such occasions to urge the Indian government to uphold the right of freedom of religion enshrined in the Constitution and to bring to justice those responsible for attacks.”
I found this site a while ago. If more people know about it, they can pray for peace there. India situation needs publicity in this case.
The attacks are taking place in those states where BJP is in power. BJP is the political wing and RSS serves as the religious wing, and they work together as cousins. RSS was banned by the govt for having murdered Mahatma Gandhi. Now RSS' sisters VHP and Bajrang Dal carry out all the attacks against Muslims and Christians. BJP political leader Narendra Modi, who is in power in the state of Gujarat, is still being denied entry into the US for having supported the Muslim massacre some years back. So far in this violence over 50 people have been killed, and over 50,000 displaced.
General Election in India is due next year. Our prayer is that BJP should not come to power. We want secular congress to come to power. The term'secular' being defined here as giving equal respect to all religions, slightly different from the way it is used in the West. Another concern is that relatives of those killed would not join the banned extremist Maoist group to take revenge. We hear that some young Christians have joined since the Maoists are giving shelter to those hiding in the jungle.
Thanks to the French President for raising it with our PM in the EU summit.
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