Easter Family Prayers stalled by Police,Tamil Nadu
As Resurrection day, also widely known as Easter dawned, with all church buildings closed, Christians across the world Social- distanced, YouTubed and Zoomed to virtually pray, worship and fellowship with friends and family. In spite of the world being stuck in quarantine and focusing on masks, tests and the rising death toll, Jesus Christ was celebrated! After all, He is the victor over tears, sickness and death!
In India too, Christian families shared their hope and the source of their life with each other as the virus raged across the country.Pastor K.P. Thomas and his family chose to do the same. Along with his wife and three children aged 15,14 & 12, they assembled together at around 10 am inside their home on Easter Sunday to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As a wonderful time of Worship and Thanksgiving drew to an end, Pastor Thomas decided to conclude with a prayer. But just before the family could whisper an ‘Amen’, they were taken by shock and surprise by a group of police men who suddenly rushed into their home without any warning. What is weirdabout this intrusion is that the police began to click pictures of the family and then immediately left!
The family was dumbfounded as they tried to wrap their minds around what had just occurred, but within a short while, A Sub Inspector along with few other police men came back. They then checked every room within the Pastor’s house as if something illegal was going on inside! The Sub Inspector then threatened the Pastor against conducting any Christian activity at home and left.
Over the past few months, scores of House Churches have unabashedly been restrained and, in some cases, even shut down by the police, religious zealots and politicians. To the rest of the world, India may be recognised as a secular state, when in reality it actually privileges Hinduism over other religions, often leading to episodes like this.
This is not the first time Pastor Thomas has been persecuted for his faith. Earlier this year in the month of January, a group of religious fanatics restricted a Christian conference and slapped false charges of forced conversions against him. This time round, the police were instigated by a few religious fanatics who also made false complaints against him. Doesn’t it seem like a diabolical scheme? Considering the fact that it was the festival of Easter?
The real and true reason for Christian festivals like Easter and Christmas is Jesus Christ! One cannot limit them to Church buildings, food, parties, gifts or even a house, these days are celebrated in spirit and in truth! May our country see this reality when they look at Christians. May they see that the Church of God is not a house or a building, but a company of people.
Let’s take a moment to pray for Pastor K.P. Thomas and his family. May his testimony of perseverance inspire every Christian across the country to stand firm in their faith and be a source of Joy to a perishing people, even in the midst of a pandemic. Keeping the Police and religious zealots in mind, let us pray that they may find faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection.
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Between January 2016 to December 2019, there has been a rise of 59.6% of Hate Crimes against Christians all across the country. In 2019 alone, Persecution Relief has recorded the maximum number of 527 cases compared to 447 cases in 2018, 440 in 2017 and 330 in 2016.
What stands out amongst the Hate Crimes in India is that 4 Christians were murdered in 2019. We recorded 199 incidents related to Threats, Intimidations & Harassments against Christians, 104 incidents of Church attacks, 85 incidents of Physical Violence reported which includes Women & Children, 100s of House Churches were forcefully closed down by Religious Fanatics and the local administrations.
The state of Uttar Pradesh has showed a shocking 179.4% leap in cases of Christian Persecution between 2016 to 2019! From 39 cases being reported in 2016, the number has sky rocketed to 109 cases in 2019 alone bringing the total count from across the country to 527 cases. Uttar Pradesh has proved to be the most hostile state in the country against Christians for the past 3 consecutive years. Tamil Nadu continues to rank as the second most hostile state in the country with 75 cases, followed by Karnataka with 32 cases, bringing the state of Maharashtra to number 4 with 31 cases and Bihar with 30 cases stands at number 5.
US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) ranked India’s persecution severity at “Tier 2” along with Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the past seven years, India has risen from No. 31 to No. 10 on Open Doors’ World Watch List, ranking just behind Iran in persecution severity.
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