When I write about India, I am frequently vague about people, locations and church names. Here’s the reason. Christianity represents just 2% of the Indian population, far outnumbered first by Hindus, and second by Islam. Both Hindus and Moslems may tend to persecute Christians in India, though there are often long seasons of peace.

Radical Hindus can be quite violent – see http://persecutionindia.com/. Just before I arrived in India, the team had worked in the state of Orissa, which has been violently anti-Christian until just recently when the climate has eased significantly. One of the main political parties in India, and one that is thought will soon gain a political majority, is the radical Hindu party BJP – see http://tiny.cc/cfaruw.

Hindus may also tend to abuse and then ostracize family members who become Christian, though often they can eventually be reasoned with. The main complaint is that they will have no one to marry, and marriage and children mean a great deal to Hindus. I have heard a story that one girl who converted was given a plate and cup and told by her parents to sit in the corner only and use only the one plate and cup to eat so as not to defile the rest of their home.

Contributing to all this, the first missionaries to India focused on the untouchable caste as an easy target for evangelism. This has had the unfortunate long-term effect of type-casting Jesus as the “god of the untouchables” (they consider Him one of many gods), and Christianity as the religion of the untouchables. This makes Christianity very unappealing to the higher castes of India, and especially unappealing to a higher caste whose child converts downward to Christianity. Hence the complaint, “Who will they marry?” For reference, so you will understand “downward,” the untouchables are the bottom of the caste ladder, except for the tribal groups. The tribal groups are considered to be non-existent by higher castes (as in not worth considering – much the way gypsies are viewed in Europe), and are therefore below untouchables. Complicated, isn’t it?

Moslems are also persecuting Christians in India and elsewhere, even organizing centers to train their radical young men how to effectively attack and drive out Christians and Christian churches using violence. Many pastors are beaten in areas where these organizations are active. Though there is not currently a strong anti-Christian movement in the Nalgonda area where we were for the last three weeks, we did pass a Moslem training center for violence in the city. The police tend to respond to these kinds of threats in “free” India only when a crime is committed, or when the area’s police officials actually consider the persecution to be “a crime.”

It is for these reasons that I do not often list people’s or church’s names or even community names when I speak of the work in India. I do not wish to put any information out on the internet that could be used against the pastors and churches here.