Home News Desecration of Pentecostal church part of hard-line Hindu agenda, pastors say

Desecration of Pentecostal church part of hard-line Hindu agenda, pastors say

Two Pentecostal pastors have been beaten up following the desecration of their church in northern India.

Suspected Hindu hardliners trespassed onto the premises of the Assemblies of God church in Surajkund area of Faridabad city on June 21.

Eyewitnesses said that the intruders forcibly placed an idol of a Hindu deity — the monkey god known as Bajrangbali — inside the church which is currently undergoing renovations.

“After it occurred, we filed a police report and sought action against the culprits,” Pastor Uday Pillay said. “However, soon after we filed the police report, the fanatics again barged into the church and beat up two other pastors there namely Pastor Varun Mallik and Pastor Eben,” he said.

The pastor said that the placement of the idol is an attempt to turn the 15-year-old church into a Hindu temple. Police have ordered the idol be removed but, as of June 23, it currently remains where it was left. By law, the church members are not allowed to remove it from the church, they have to wait for the authorities to do so.  

Uday said the Hindu hardliners want to turn the church into a Hindu place of worship.

Senior church leader Pastor Nehemiah told LiCAS.news that what has occurred is not an isolated incident. It’s part of a broader plan by Hindu hardliners to terrify and prosecute minorities, he said.

The idol of the Hindu monkey god known as Bajrangbali inside the church which is currently undergoing renovations. (Photo supplied)
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“These are deliberate attempts to frighten Christians, grab their places of worship and launch a smear campaign against them,” Nehemiah said.

He referred to a 1992 incident where pro-Hindu groups demolished Babri Masjid, a medieval period mosque, which they claim was built on the birthplace of Lord Rama, a Hindu God.

The demolition triggered deadly inter-communal riots considered the worst since 1947 when British rule ended in the sub-continent. The incident created a deep divide between the country’s Hindu and Muslim communities, while also providing political fuel for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“The same things are being done today. Placing the idols of Hindu gods inside churches is going to be a worrisome trend that could well stir communal violence, leading to more Christians being persecuted,” Nehemiah said.

Minakshi Singh, general secretary of Christian organization Unity in Christ, told LiCAS.news she agreed what occurred at the church appears to be a part of plan to terrorize minorities, especially Christians, in India.

“This incident is aimed at sending a message to other places in the country that religious places of minorities can be targeted and grabbed at ease. This is unacceptable and deeply concerning,” said Minakshi who added that her organization is planning to hold protest rallies across India against such acts of vandalism to places of worship.

Jenis Francis, a Christian activist from Delhi, told LiCAS.news that the anti-Christian attacks in India haven’t lessened despite the nationwide anti-coronavirus lockdown.

Francis cited another example that occurred on June 7 when religious extremists attacked a prayer service in central India’s Madhya Pradesh state. “Instead of taking action against the culprits, police arrested the parishioners and registered a FIR [first information report] against them for forcefully converting Hindus to Christianity,” said Francis.

Christians constitute only 2.3 per cent of India’s overall population of 1.3 billion people.

The U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom, an independent body dedicated to protecting freedom of religion, has recently recommended India to be listed as a “country of particular concern.”

United Nations officials have recently raised concerns over what they describe as “the growing trend of violence towards religious minorities” in the country.

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