- (Photo: Reuters/Ahmad Masood)
An evangelical pastor in India was attacked by a mob of Muslims after he was accused of trying to forcibly convert Muslims while talking about Jesus Christ.
The attack was on Pastor Lewis Mascarenhas, a member of the Church of South India (CSI) based in Hospet within the Bellary district of Karnataka. The incident reportedly took place on Nov. 23 as he was talking with a group of local Muslims who had started a civil discussion about Jesus Christ.
They were reportedly asking about the beliefs of Christians that were concerned with the teachings of Christ. During the discussion, he distributed some literature explaining the nature of the gospel and also other information dealing with the Christian faith, as well as what the Bible specifically says about the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ.
News of the discussion spread quickly through the town, and soon after, a group of angry Muslims gathered. They thought Mascarenhas was forcibly converting Muslims to Christianity.
The mob began attacking the pastor without first asking about the initial discussion and its focus. The mob then reportedly dragged the severely beaten pastor to the Hospet Rural police station in nearby Chithodagi and filed a complaint against him. They alleged that he was forcibly trying to convert Muslims to Christianity.
After briefly looking into the allegations, authorities took the pastor to the B.C. Acharya Hospital in Hospet, where he was admitted as an in-patient and is still under police custody.
Police in Hospet have filed charges against Mascarenhas for insulting the religious sentiments of Muslims, as well as for forcibly trying to convert them to Christianity.
As news of the attack spread, Muslims began attacking churches and institutions run by Christians in Hospet. Police protection is being provided to Christian-affiliated organizations and businesses in the area.
Mascarenhas lives with his wife Bhabitha in Hospet, and has been sharing the message of Christ there and in the surrounding villages for the last five years.