Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

US lawmakers urge India to protect Christians from Hindu militants

Story from Agence France Presse.

Excerpt:

US lawmakers urged authorities in India’s eastern state of Orissa to prosecute perpetrators of violence against Christians, saying the nation’s reputation for tolerance was at stake.

In a letter to the state’s Chief Minister Navin Patnaik released Friday, the lawmakers voiced concern that many perpetrators of last year’s violence were still at large and intimidating their victims.

More than 100 Christian were killed and thousands more left homeless between August and October 2008 following the murder of a revered Hindu holy man, which was blamed on Christians.

While praising recent statements by India’s central government, the lawmakers said that local authorities have sometimes turned away victims seeking redress.

“Such attacks on the fundamental freedom of religion threaten not only India’s reputation for religious diversity, but also the very stability of India’s secular democracy,” the 21 lawmakers, led by Republican Trent Franks, wrote in the letter sent late last month.

“Given the recent experience with religiously inspired terrorism, we are concerned that if Hindu extremists can act with impunity toward religious minorities in India, these extremists and their ideologies will begin to affect international security as well.”

Christians account for 2.3 percent of the billion-plus population in India, which is majority Hindu but officially secular.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan official advisory panel, in August placed India on its watch list, citing violence against Christians in Orissa and Muslims in the western state of Gujarat.

The move brought swift condemnation from India, an emerging US ally, which said the nation had an independent judiciary and vigilant media to pursue any aberrations from its secular, multi-religious principles.

It may be useful to listen to the recent debate between Hindus and Christians that I summarized, in which two Hindus explain their view of human rights and how religious minorities should be treated. In some parts of India, if you do not accept the Hindu concept of polytheism, then you are opening yourself up to violence from Hindu extremists. On the other hand, the election of the Congress Party and the rejection of the BJP Party was a good sign that the bulk of Indians are more tolerant that the militant Hindus.

Deepak Chopra and intolerance for Christianity

In a related story, Hugh Hewitt had a post up about Deepak Chopra, who often writes against Bible-believing Christians.

Excerpt:

Still more Chopra invective surfaced in The Washington Post this September, again targeting [Rick] Warren and reflecting the charm of the Left. “The abuse delivered by right-wing Christians is such an old story that we are long past irony,” Chopra wrote, before moving on to his favorite target.

“The Rev. Rick Warren has a record for trying to smooth the waters, but he also flirts with intolerance — toward gay marriage, for instance — and since his rationale is that a ‘loving’ God shares the same prejudices, what’s to stop others with worse tempers from following the same logic? When your God hates, you have permission to hate,” Chopra wrote.

When your guru hates, I guess that gives you permission to hate as well?

I think it’s encouraging that the bulk of Hindus seem to be moving away from the view of intolerant extremists like Deepak Chopra and the Hindu militants in Orissa.

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Indian Christians cheer election results

In September of 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported on anti-Christian violence in India:

In the past week in Karnataka, the southern Indian state that is home to India’s high-technology capital of Bangalore, at least 17 attacks have been reported on churches and prayer halls, according to local Christian groups, independent monitors and police….Christians, who make up roughly 2% of India’s 1.1 billion population, have periodically been the targets of violence by Hindu-extremist groups who oppose Christian missionaries and the conversion of Hindus. Christianity has proven popular among those on the lowest rungs of Hinduism’s caste hierarchy, in part because Christian groups often offer education and health care.

Christians and churches also have been targeted in Kerala in southern India, Madhya Pradesh in central India and Uttar Pradesh in the north.

The incidents follow attacks on Christians in the eastern state of Orissa starting last month that have left about 25 dead. The Orissa attacks were sparked after a Hindu-fundamentalist leader, Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, was found dead in a temple. Orissa police have said they suspect Maoist rebels for the deaths, but Hindu-extremist groups blame Christian missionaries.

The violence has taken on a political tinge as India prepares for national elections that must be held before May.

The article talks about the two main parties in the May elections:

The opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party is viewed as ideologically aligned with the extremist Hindu groups, such as the Bajrang Dal, that minority groups and some other parties blame for stoking the violence.

The BJP and the Congress Party are India’s two main national parties. The current government is a Congress-led coalition.

…”The BJP has always fallen back on a strategy that polarizes people on communal lines to get what they imagine will be electoral gains,” said Jayanti Natarajan, a Congress spokeswoman.

Check out these comments by the BJP, it’s scary:

Kalyan Singh, BJP national vice president, said the party doesn’t believe in sectarian agitation. “We condemn the violence in Orissa, but the main and deep root is the mass conversions by the Christian missionaries,” which the BJP opposes, he said.

Bajrang Dal is a militant youth wing of the Vishva Hindu Parishad, a Hindu-nationalist organization. Prakash Sharma, Bajrang Dal’s national head, said in an interview that the death of Mr. Saraswati in Orissa was “under the inspiration of the Christian missionaries and converts.” He said that as a result, “people all over India are responding spontaneously against them.” Asked if he could cite evidence of Christian culpability for the death, he failed to do so.

He denied any involvement of Bajrang Dal in the riots against Christians in Orissa and Karnataka.

CNS reported on the anti-Christian campaign waged by the BJP:

Orissa is one of five Indian states where BJP authorities have passed anti-conversion laws which the U.S. State Department says infringe upon an individual’s right to change religion.

…Christians say those who have become believers do so willingly, and in the process escape the discriminatory caste system.

The Christian ministry Open Doors, which maintains a watchlist of countries where Christians face the worst persecution, this year moved India to 22nd place, up from 30th last year.

The May elections are now completed! And here are the election results so far, from the BBC: (H/T Dr. Roy)

State television says Congress’s alliance has won or is ahead in 263 seats, compared with the BJP’s (154), the Third Front (60) and others (66).

…Prakash Karat, the leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the key mover in the Third Front, accepted Congress had won.

“The CPM and the Left parties have suffered a major setback,” he said.

It’s a Parliamentary system with 543 seats, you need a governing coalition with the majority of seats to govern.

Dr. Roy says:

…There will no need for commies to be part of the governing coalition. There was 60% turnout. Unfortunately 60 people died in attacks by maoist terorrists. Congress and its allies have won in Tamil Nadu. Probably not very good news for the ltte. The Prime minister will be ManMohan Singh for now, but it is likely a Gandhi will be PM in the not too distant future.

Great news for Christians in India!

UPDATE: The Competitive Enterprise Institute says that it’s a victory for free market capitalism, as well! Bonus!

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