India's first transgender pastor, a 25-year-old who is in charge of a small congregation in the southern city of Chennai, is from a leading evangelical denomination, whose bishop cautiously says his church's constitution does not bar a transgender from being ordained.
Pastor Bharathi, known only by her first name, is openly transgender and she is leading a congregation in Chengalpattu area on the suburbs of Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state, Bishop Ezra Sargunam, head of the Evangelical Church of India, told The Christian Post.
Asked if the ECI has made a policy decision to allow the ordination of transgenders, Bishop Sargunam said the church's constitution is silent on it. more >>
Four Christian pastors have been expelled from Kashmir, Northern India, after they were accused of trying to convert youths into Christianity by bribing them with money.
Religious tensions in the Muslim-dominated province have historically been high, with a court system actively in place barring any attempts by missionaries to turn people towards Christ through financial means. Many stories circle the region of pastors being accused of bribing Indians with money.
The four local pastors in question, CM Khanna, Gayoor Massi, Chandra Kanta and Jim Borst, who were convicted of bribery on Jan. 19 and told to leave the province for "luring" Muslims to Christianity, were apparently exposed by a video filmed last year that shows one of the pastors baptizing Kashmiri boys, OnIslam.com reported. more >>
An Afghan Christian widow and three of her daughters were denied refugee status by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in New Delhi for the second time last month, and currently face imminent deportation to their home country where they could face imprisonment for apostasy and a potential death sentence.
The widow and her daughters, whose names have not been released for security reasons, received a deportation notice from the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs after their first application for asylum was rejected in October 2009, International Christian Concern (ICC), a global Christian advocacy group, informed The Christian Post. When the mother reapplied in July 2011 with her three daughters and a fourth daughter, who is widowed with a child, only the widowed daughter and the child were accepted. The others are no longer permitted to correspond with the UNHCR office and are currently living in India as illegal immigrants, ICC said.
"All members of the family left Afghanistan for the same reason, all of them are Christians, and all are facing the same kind of problem," Obaid S. Christ, a leader of the Afghan Christian community in New Delhi, told ICC. "If two members of the same family are recognized as refugees and four others are denied, there is definitely something wrong with the UNHCR judgment system. We believe that the UNHCR office blindly closed their application without making any inquiry, investigation, or considering the new facts and real danger that these women are facing back in their home country." more >>
NEW DELHI, India – Attacks on Christians accelerated over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays in the south Indian state of Karnataka, which was identified as the most unsafe place for the religious minority for the third consecutive year in 2011.
With 49 cases of violence and hostility against Christians in 2011, Karnataka remained the state with the highest incidence of persecution, according to the Evangelical Fellowship of India’s annual report, “Battered and Bruised…”
The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), which is based in Karnataka’s capital of Bengaluru and initially reported most of the incidents, also documented at least six anti-Christian attacks between Christmas Eve 2011 and New Year’s Day. more >>
Acts of violence and intolerance against Christians in Indonesia almost doubled in 2011, with an Islamist campaign to close down churches symbolizing the plight of the religious minority.
The Indonesian Protestant Church Union, locally known as PGI, counted 54 acts of violence and other violations against Christians in 2011, up from 30 in 2010.
The number of such incidents against religious minorities in general also grew, from 198 in 2010 to 276 in 2011, but the worst is perhaps yet to come if authorities continue to overlook the threat of extremism, said a representative from the Jakarta-based Wahid Institute, a Muslim organization that promotes tolerance. more >>
Watchdog groups are sounding the alarm on increasing acts of violence against Christians in India at the hands of the country's Hindu community.
India is one of the regions closely monitored by human rights groups, due to many cases of religious persecution taking place in its recent history. The biggest act of violence against Christians took place in 2008, in a remote eastern region of India, during an event referred to as the "Orissa massacre," in which an estimated 100 Christians were killed and some 5,600 displaced by a mob of Hindu extremists.
Local observers see a bleak outlook for 2012, given the mood in the country, as signs of renewed enmity become more and more apparent. more >>