India: Tribal animists brutally beat pastor who refused to worship false gods

A priest in India was severely beaten by tribal supporters and seconds, angry at his refusal to contribute money to tribal gods worship – yet the police refused to punish the attackers.

In January, Reverend Lakshman Arawan, who had converted from tribal deism to Christianity, was summoned by the elders of the village of Jongor, Lattihar County in Jharkhand state, according to Morning Star News reports. The sheikhs demanded that the priest and other Christians in the village help fund the ritual worship of tribal deities. When he refused, they got angry.

The priest said, “Then they turned to me angrily,” Why won’t you give me money? “And they started to offend me with dirty language.” I asked, “Why am I going to give the money? When I don’t believe in rituals or deities, why give money to worship them / puja? It’s hard-earned money, and we don’t spend it on rituals that we don’t believe in. Also, how does it make any difference, since I also do not participate in any of the rituals? ”

When the priest explained why Christians could not comply because of their faith, the pagan believers, who worship the gods on the basis of ancestors, spirits, and nature, answered that his ancestors were tribal priests and that he was “a useless sane who adopts a foreign doctrine and must teach a lesson.”

He said that village leaders tied Oron’s hands behind his back, and kicked him to the ground in front of a crowd of about 80 followers of the tribal gods. They also threatened to expel Christians from the village.

“A group of mobs surrounded me and took turns, one by one, to kick my back, to the head and punch me in the face,” Oron told Morning Star News. The beating lasted more than an hour. They closed the village council building, and threatened the Christians that if they took any picture or video, tried to leave the scene, or tried to call the police, phones would be confiscated, and people would face the same fate.

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“They told us that they would beat us all to death, one by one.”

Despite the persecution, the priest said he was not “angry,” resting in Matthew 5: 11-12, who says: “Blessed are you when others insult you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil to you from my account falsely. Rejoice and be glad, because your reward is great in heaven. Because for this they persecuted the prophets who were before you. ”

I received great power from these words. There was a smile on my face the whole time, “he said.

In the end, the mob released the pastor. Seeking justice, Christians sent petitions to the Station House Officer (SHO) at Manica Police Station, the Police Director, and the District Mosque. The SHO summoned both parties to the police station and “we reached a compromise that we will not file any case against them, and they will not expel us from the village,” the priest said.

O’Ron said that the tribal leaders at the police station continued to demand money for the rituals, and the SHO asked Christians to hand over the money, believing that would solve the problem.

He said, “At the police station, he asked us to pay the money, and we gave it.” “We are praying for the salvation of village leaders and lovers of tribal gods. The police assured us that they will be within a phone call in case any problem arises, and that we will not face any problems from the villagers after giving the money.”

When asked about the harassment of Christians in the village of Jungor, SHO at Manica Police Station denied the mob attack, saying, “No such incident occurred.”

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A recent Human Rights Watch report warned that the inherent biases in the ruling Hindu nationalist BJP government have “increasingly infiltrated independent institutions,” such as the police and courts, “enabling nationalist groups to threaten, harass and attack religious groups. Minorities with impunity.” .

India ranks 10th on Open Door USA’s global watch list of 50 countries where it is difficult to be a Christian.

Open Doors notes that those who convert to Christianity are accused of adopting a “foreign faith” and blame misfortune in their communities.

“These believers are often physically assaulted and sometimes killed,” Open Doors says. If they do not “change their religion,” they may be boycotted by their community, which will have a devastating effect on their ability to earn an income. Many believers are isolated and do not know any other Christian.

Last year, India refused entry visas to representatives of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, who were planning to investigate reports of persecution of Muslims and Christians after the release of its report classifying India as a “country of particular concern”.

In a statement to The Christian Post, the advocacy group “Federation of American Indian Christian Organizations in North America” ​​said at the time that it was “extremely disappointed” that India did not receive a CPC rating in 2020.

“The national government has allowed violence against minorities and their places of worship to continue with impunity, and has participated in and condoned hate speech and incitement to violence,” said Viacona. “The Indian government headed by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party continues to conveniently claim that all this violence against Christians in India is isolated incidents and not government policy.”