Friday, September 05, 2008

Forced Reconversion

I continue to receive news from my friends and former students about the troubles in the state of Orissa. One of my students wrote that his brother was killed and their house was destroyed. Another church planter wrote to tell me his house was burned and that his family is now hiding in the forest. This morning I received this news:

Forceful Reconversion Carries on ; 
Supreme Court Raps State, Asks to Submit Report 

Hindu mobs led by fundamentalists are roaming in the whole of Kandhamal district & threatening the Christians to reconvert or else face death. Yesterday 5 families were forcefully reconverted, against their will, to Hinduism in Adaskupa in Kandhamal.

The Court further directed the Orissa Government to place a report of steps taken to protect lives of people in riot-hit Kandhamal district. "The court wanted to know what the state government was doing to protect the lives of people belonging to the Christian community," the court official said.

The religious fanaticism, which started on the night of August 23, has drawn strong condemnation from the international community. 

In a letter sent to the Bishop Joel Mal, Moderator of North India, The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, called for an end to the violence and urged Christians elsewhere to show their support for the Christian community in Orissa. 

"I hope that Christians and people of faith around the world will make known their horror at this violence, their support for the rebuilding of lives and the churches, orphanages and schools destroyed, and for work towards future reconciliation," he said.

EFI has compiled a comprehensive list of database with assistance from Archbishop's House Bhubaneswar, John Dayal, Christian Legal Association, Light Foundation and EFI News reporters and other sources, which can be found at Orissa Christian Persecution Fact Finding Report.

The next potential problem is the proposed yatra that is scheduled for tomorrow, September 6, in Bhubneshwar, carrying the ashes of slain leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati.