Thinking about India and religious violence

The Dalits make up 25 percent of India's population and are the poorest caste in Hinduism. They face severe discrimination and oppression.
The Dalits make up 25 percent of India's population and are the poorest caste group in Hinduism. They are severely discriminated against and oppressed.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention that I’m not always thinking about elections and hurricanes. In fact, this is something I’ve been watching and praying about lately. This was from a report in The Guardian from Aug. 31:

Thousands of terrified Indian Christians are hiding in the forests of the volatile Indian state of Orissa after a wave of religious ‘cleansing’ forced them from their burnt-out homes with no immediate prospect of return.

A mob of Hindu fundamentalists rampaged through villages last week, killing those too slow to get out of their way, burning churches and an orphanage, and targeting the homes of Christians. Up to 20 people were reported dead, with at least two deliberately set alight, after the murder of a Hindu leader last Saturday provoked the violence.

In some districts, entire villages lay deserted, abandoned by Christian populations who would rather shelter in the forests than return to face the risk of death. Some villagers attempted to return to their homes yesterday despite threats of further violence.

But Christian leaders who had spoken to those who have fled said that even among the trees they were not safe. Some of their tormenters have pursued them, trying to finish the job.

While the portion of the story above indicates the killings are in response to the killing of a Hindu leader the week before, the story goes on to say that Maoist guerrillas have in fact claimed responsibility for the killing. Still, there is tension between the groups:

Underlying the violence is a long-simmering dispute between Hindus and Christians in the state over the conversion of low-caste Hindus to Catholicism. The success of the Christian churches has fuelled resentment among hardline Hindus. The Vatican has condemned the violence. Most of India’s billion-plus citizens are Hindu, while just 2.5 per cent of them are Christians.

With that in mind, I would like to point out a resource that I use called Global Prayer Digest. From its site, the Global Prayer Digest:

(I)s a unique devotional booklet. Each day it gives a glimpse of what God is doing around the world, and what still remains to be done. Daily prayer for that still-unfinished task is at the heart of the Adopt-A-People movement. Condensed missionary stories, biblical challenges, urgent reports, and exciting descriptions of unreached peoples provide a digest of rich fuel for your own times of prayer for the world.

The Global Prayer Digest is a key tool in a movement to help fulfill Christ’s commission to make disciples of all the peoples of the earth. This movement involves a daily discipline of learning, praying, and giving to help reach the world’s nearly 9,000 ureached people groups. Unreached peoples are those groups which do not yet have a strong church in their own cultural and social setting.

This month’s guide is on the Dalits of India. They are the poorest caste group in India and face severe discrimination. In the story above, many of those are from this group. Each day GPD has a prayer topic related to that month’s guide. It is a valuable resource and one that I would encourage anyone who calls himself a Christian to explore. As it says on the site, “when man works, man works, but when man prays, God works.”

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