Christians Outraged Over Textbooks in India Calling Jesus Christ a 'Demon'

(Photo: Reuters/Jayanta Shaw)School children listen to a speech by a Christian leader during a protest rally in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata August 29, 2008.

The Christian community in Ahmedabad, India, is outraged that class 9 Hindi language textbooks refer to Jesus Christ as a "demon."

The government has claimed that the adjective 'hevaan' or 'demon,' used before Jesus' name in the textbooks published by the Gujarat State School Textbook Board was a mistake, News 18 reported on Thursday, and said that the error will be rectified.

The Times of India reports that the Christian community notified the government about the error over a month ago but no action was taken, until now.

Chapter 16 of the textbook in question states "Is sambandh me hevaan Isa ka ek kathan sada smaraniya hai," which translates as "one statement of demon Jesus is always memorable."

Fr. Vinayak Jhadav, spokesperson for the Catholic Church of Gujarat, said that the error was pointed out by the chairman of the GSSTB back in May.

"Prima facie it appears that the word 'hevaan,' which is demon or beast or devil, may be a typo and we had requested an immediate correction," Jhadav said.

"When we did not hear from the textbook board, we took the matter to the Gujarat United Christian Forum and decided to represent the case before the state education minister for an explanation, correction and disciplinary action against those responsible for the error. This is not about religion, it is about quality of education."

Advocate Subramaniam Iyer, who also noticed the mistake, noted that India's law prohibits deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings.

"Jesus is being portrayed as a demon to students. Quite clearly, this is a case that attracts section 295(a) of the IPC that pertains to hurting the religious sentiments of any class," Iyer said.

He added that even if the error proves to be unintentional, it still has the potential to create a rift between communities.

"This simply is unacceptable and should be removed immediately," he said.

Religious sensitivities are a significant point of tension in the Hindu majority nation, where Christians suffer persecution at the hands of extremists. Open Doors USA ranked India at No. 15 on its 2017 World Watch List of countries where Christians are most severely punished for their faith, due to the rising attacks.

Open Doors further said that an average of 40 incidents per month against Christians or churches were reported in India during 2016.

Beside attacks by Hindu radicals, Christian organizations have also been targeted by anti-evangelistic government laws.

Child sponsorship organization Compassion International was forced to close down its doors in India in March, leaving behind 147,000 children, after the government blocked funding from outside the subcontinent.

"We are broken-hearted that the Indian government has put us in a position where we may be forced to close our doors in India," Compassion President Santiago "Jimmy" Mellado said in a statement to The Christian Post ahead of the organization's closure.

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