7 Christian families beaten up, penalty of Rs. 45,000/- & a goat for sacrifice, Gujarat
Pastor T. A. Samuel, Head of Immanuel Fellowship Ministries in India [IFMI], was the first to report this shocking incident to Persecution Relief.
For the past 8 years, Pastor Kanu, who is affiliated to IFMI Ministries, ministers to around 25 families, who gather together at a believer’s residence for Sunday Worship in Dehda village, Dahod district of Gujarat state of India.
Things had been peaceful for all these years, but in the recent past, people from other faiths have willingly committed to following the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, Christians in the village were facing a lot of harassment and intimidation from the local villagers. Insulted, abused, beaten without any provocation and forced to worship their hindu gods, tension had been simmering among the villagers because the Christians were not worshiping their gods.
Instigated by religious fanatics in the area, local villagers summoned the 25 families, and assembled in front of the courtyard of the temple. They were accused of defiling the village and their gods. In reparation, puja was performed and each family was asked to break a coconut and eat the special “prasad” (vegetarian food that was offered to the idols, normally consumed by worshippers after worship).
These Christians refused the “prasad”, as per Bible teaching and individual’s conscience, insisting on exercising their Christian freedom in the matter of eating food.
This enraged the religious fanatics and villagers, who decided to take the law into their own hands and punish the “impure” Christians.
The local villagers surrounded and thrashed them with lathis. The young and able-bodied ran away, while the elderly and women folk with young children, bore the brunt of this malicious and unprovoked attack. 7 families were brutally beaten up.
The matter was reported to the Village Headman, chosen by the people, who administers the rights, rules and ceremonies of the village.
Listening to the story, the village headman who is expected to be unbiased, was prejudiced towards the majority community and manipulated by the local religious fanatics, decreed the following coercive practice on the families:
1) The 25 Christian families must pay a cash fine of ₹45,000/- and provide a live goat, as a sacrificial offering to appease their god
2) The families were forbidden to gather for Sunday worship service going forward.
The village headman alleged that the Christians had diminished the power of their temple gods. He also alleged that the traditional dignity and identity of the temple, had been defiled, polluted and made impure by the Christian God. Therefore, to restore the sacredness of their gods, the spilling of blood was necessary as purification, in the belief that it will appease their gods.
Instead of going to the Police – who usually try not to interfere in the village affairs, and fearing further harassment, the Christians surrendered to the injustice and sentence passed by the community assembly. While they have vehemently refused to participate in the prescribed cleansing ceremonies, they have consented to pay for the cost of the goat and the penalty levied upon them, so as to avoid being excommunicated and accepted back into the community.
Uprooting their lives and livelihood, relocating from the area, giving up their ancestral property and homes and livestock, is something that these families want to avoid.
Speaking to persecution Relief, Pastor Mark, who is in-charge of IFMI, mentioned that the families were economically backward. Pastor Kanu, borrowed money from local Money Lenders on interest, to pay the Village Headman.
“The families are demoralized in their spirit and discouraged that they cannot gather to worship on Sunday’s at the village again”.
This shameful and illegal incident, raises serious questions over the functioning and competency of the Village Council authority, where religion becomes the tool of oppression over an economically weaker and powerless minority group.
Last Sunday, these families travelled around 5 kms to the neighbouring village for Sunday Worship service.
Church, while we sit in our Air-conditioned Halls and Auditoriums, 1000’s of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and oppressed and harassed, every Sunday, just to gather under a shed and worship. The Bible records that when a fellow Christian faces persecution, grief, or trials, we hurt as if we’re experiencing that pain.
“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it”. – 1 Corinthians 12:26
In the body of Christ, someone’s pain must ignite our compassion and move us toward action. We might pray, offer a word of encouragement, or do whatever it takes to aid the healing process. That’s how the body works together.
The estimated cost of a goat is around Rs. 13,000/- ($US. 190/-) and the cash penalty of Rs. 45,000/- ($US. 650/-).
If you are inspired by the Holy Spirit to support these families, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp on +91 9993200020.
Church, pray for Christians in Gujarat and for peace of God to prevail in the State. Many Christians live in such hostile situations, denying them their Constitutional Right and Freedom of religion and Belief. Pray that believers will continue to stand strong in their faith and that none should be lost.
Let us be united in one Spirit and stand with the Persecuted Church in India, in an hour like this!
In 2018, Persecution Relief recorded 477 incidents of violence against Christians, of which 4 incidents were from the state of West Bengal.
In 2019, more than 100 incidents of hate crimes against Christians have already been recorded.
Persecution Relief wishes to withhold personal information to protect the victims of Christian Persecution, hence names and places have been changed. Please know that the content and the presentation of views are the personal opinion of the persons involved and do not reflect those of Persecution Relief. Persecution Relief assumes no responsibility or liability for the same. All Media Articles posted on our website, are not edited by Persecution Relief and is reproduced as generated on the respective website. The views expressed are the Authors/Websites own. If you wish to acquire more information, please email us at: email@example.com or reach us on WhatsApp: +91 9993200020