Families were irrationally questioned about their Christian faith by a group of unruly religious fanatics in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. More than 15 fanatics approached the Christians and began harassing and threatening them, creating a chaos in the shantytown.

Speaking to Persecution Relief about the incident, *Pr. Jayakumar said, “Over 40 people regularly meet as a Church in this neighborhood. For the past 8 years I have been leading this church and the members are a peace-loving people. We never had trouble before.”

The 39-year-old pastor told Persecution Relief that heavy rains had caused damage to the church building which was lying vacant due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “I had just finished renovating the Church building so that we could gradually start prayer meetings as per Government norms” he added.

On the 2nd of August 2020, a few of the church members met to reopen the repaired church building and observed the day by feeding the poor in that locality. “We noticed that a brother of one of our church members came along with his family” said Pr. Jayakumar.

“We were pleased to see the family, but were completely unaware that they had actually come to cause trouble. The family who captured videos and pictures of the prayer meeting and lunch service, showed them to a group of religious fanatics from the same locality” said the Pastor.

That very evening, at around 5:30pm, a large group of fanatics came to the Church building and started asking around for the Pastor and the Christian families, Pr. Jayakumar told Persecution Relief. “I had left by then, but that didn’t stop them from harassing the Christians” he added.

The Pastor who has been a Christian for 23 years, told Persecution Relief that the fanatics began accusing him and the Church members of forcefully converting people. He said that the group went around asking the Christians their names and inquiring how they could be Christians when their names seemed to be Indian?

“When one of my Church member replied that his surname was Hanumanta, the fanatics pounced back at him saying that he should worship only ‘Hanuman’ ( Hindu god) because that is what his name denotes” exclaimed the Pastor.

Some of the Christians replied to the fanatics saying, “We have Indian names as we live in India. But our forefathers were all Christians.” Some of the women also answered the fanatics and said, “we married into Christian homes, of our own accord and we are firm in our Christian faith.”

“Agitated by their response, the fanatics asked for my address, but the believers protected me and did not release any information to them. They left by threatening to be back when the next meeting takes place, to put an end to all the Christian activities here” said Pastor Jayakumar.

The Pastor has requested prayers to be made for his Church and himself. Pray that the church in this slum would only get stronger and thrive during this challenging time just as the Church of the New Testament grew during persecution. Pray for much wisdom and protection over the Pastor and his family. Pray that the religious fanatics would begin to see how the Church is indeed a blessing to the poor and the community at large. Pray that they would bring no harm to the church but in stead be curious about the deep love and saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Hebrews 13:6. God’s perfect love for us is able to cast out every ounce of fear that could so easily grip us. He is strong and greater than he that is in this world. We belong to the victorious army of a true and living God. Our hope is in Him alone.

Karnataka stood at third position for the most hostile states against Christians in India after Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Since January 2020, this is the 23rd case of Christian Persecution documented by Persecution Relief.

Between January to July 2020, Persecution Relief has documented 9 religiously motivated hate crimes that have led to death, of which 2 involve rape. From January 2016 to June 2020, Persecution Relief has recorded 2067 cases of Hate crimes against Christians in India of which 293 cases were recorded in the first half of 2020 alone.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has downgraded India to the lowest ranking, ‘Countries of Particular Concern’(CPC) in its 2020 report. The US State Department 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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