Hundreds of Christians have reportedly been arrested in New Delhi, India, for protesting against a series of vandalism attacks against churches.
The police crackdown occurred on Thursday, when hundreds of demonstrators gathered around the Sacred Heart Cathedral, near the Indian parliament. Police barricaded the roads leading to the residence of Home Minister Rajnath Singh, and began arresting people for unlawful assembly.
President Barack Obama said that those who believe he is not a Christian do not know him, but even if he were not a Christian, there would be nothing wrong with that. Obama made the remarks in a speech in New Delhi, where he called on India to do more to safeguard religious freedom.
"In our lives, Michelle [Obama] and I have been strengthened by our Christian faith. Still, as you may know, my faith has at times been questioned — by people who don't know me — or they've said that I adhere to a different religion, as if that were somehow a bad thing," Obama said, according to ABC News.
"Every person has the right to practice their faith how they choose, or to practice no faith at all, and to do so free from persecution and fear." more >>
The only Christian church in the Indian village of Tadur in Telangana state has reportedly been burned down by Hindu radicals. Pastor D. Srinivas of Parimala Beautiful Church recalled the attack, and noted that hostility against Christians in the country has been on the rise.
"I have been serving as the pastor for the last six years in this village. We used to meet at church members' houses, till last year we built a temporary structure," Srinivas told The International Christian Concern.
"Prior to this incident, on number of occasions, right-wing activists have threatened me and warned me not to continue the church in this village. The Hindu radicals have snatched the Gospel literature from me and destroyed them a number of times in the past." more >>
Archbishop Anil JT Couto of New Delhi says there's an emerging pattern of attacks on Christian churches in the city, after a fourth church was vandalized and had its windows smashed on Wednesday.
"A clear pattern of orchestrated attacks is emerging as more and more churches are targetted, vandalised and set on fire," Couto said, according to NDTV. "This is very disturbing and we request the authorities to take adequate measures to bring to book the miscreants who are threatening to weaken the social fabric of this great nation."
The latest church to be vandalized was Our Lady of Graces Church, with CCTV cameras catching the attack and the perpetrator. more >>
Millions of Christians in India from the lowest caste system, known as "dalit," are being forced to choose between their faith and receiving government benefits available only to "untouchables," a report has said.
The International Christian Concern noted on Sunday that there are close to 25 million Dalits across India who've converted to Christianity, but now must make the choice between maintaining their faith or benefiting from a government program that only helps them if they identify with their Hindu background.
"This choice has significantly affected the constitutional right India's citizens have to freely choose a religion for themselves," the ICC reported. more >>
A group of around 30 Hindu radicals reportedly attacked a Christian pastor and 15 of his church members singing Christmas carols in the Indian city of Hyderabad over the weekend, accusing the Christians of trying to convert people. The attack left Pastor Bhim Nayak of Banjara Baptist Church and four other Christians severely injured.
International Christian Concern reported that the attack occurred on Saturday night, when Nayak and his church members were singing carols while visiting other Christian families in the Singareny Colony in Hyderabad. The radicals surrounded the Christians and their vehicle, before accusing them of trying to forcefully convert people to Christianity.
What followed was a severe beating that left Nayak unconscious and covered in blood, needing to be taken to the hospital and receive first aid. The local hospital has said that the pastor remains in critical condition, while four other Christians injured in the attack are receiving medical attention as well. more >>