September 26, 2008
India's Christians Rally for Peace
This Sunday near Chicago and elsewhere in the US, Christians will gather to draw new attention to persecuted believers inside India.
Yesterday, top leaders from India's vibrant Christian community in greater Chicago held a press conference to announce that this Sunday they will hold a peace rally in support of the persecuted Christians from India's violence-stricken state of Orissa.
In the November 2008 edition of Christianity Today, we will have both a news report and editorial commentary on the situation for Christians in India.
Here's one graph from the CT editorial:
"The real embarrassment to the world's largest democracy is not this incident. No, it is the fact that this flashpoint is not all that unusual for India. Orissa witnessed similar attacks against Christians just last Christmas. According to the All India Christian Council, which defends the human rights of the nation's long-oppressed Dalits, somewhere in India an attack against Christians occurs on average every three days. Readers of this periodical will likely recall the grisly murder of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons in Orissa nearly a decade ago (CT, March 1, 1999)."
This rare peace rally will occur on Sunday, Sept. 28. Here are details:
St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago's Bishop Rt. Rev. Dr. Mar Jacob Angadiath sent a following appeal to all peace lovers in Chicagoland to join him for a Peace Rally on September 28, 2008 at 1:30 p.m. at St. Thomas Syro Malabar Cathedral Grounds:
"As you are well aware the persecution of our Christian brethren and the destruction of our churches, convents, orphanages and other Christian institutions are continuing unabated in Orissa, Karnataka and in some parts of Kerala. We cannot remain silent spectators of such gruesome cruelties inflicted on innocent people. We have to make our people and local congregations aware of the indescribable cruelty of this hatred and violence against Christians. It was the desire of many people who have contacted me to act together to bring to the attention of the Christian faithful here the atrocities of this cruel rampage.
Hence may I request to join me along with all the peace loving congregations to show our solidarity and support to our brothers and sisters in India. I am calling for a 'Peace Rally' and a 'Prayer Vigil' on Sunday, September 28, 2008 at 1:30 P.M. at the Syro-Malabar Cathedral Grounds, 5000 St. Charles Road, Bellwood, Illinois.
In Friday's Chicago Tribune, the newspaper noted:
"This is an urgent matter," Bishop Mar Jacob Angadiath said Friday during a news conference in St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Cathedral. "[Christians] have been burnt alive. Churches and homes are being burnt down and families are fleeing into the forests surrounding their villages."
Other protests and peace rallies will occur in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC.
Another press statement comes from FIACONA:
Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations in North America (FIACONA) seeks an immediate ban on Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), as the VHP has openly established itself as an anti-Christian organization of militant characteristics. The militancy is nowhere short of terrorism and it neither reflects the thoughts of the majority Indian Hindus nor does it represent them. The violence against Christians in Orissa was perpetrated by Hindu radicals, allegedly by the VHP. Hindus are a peace-loving community who follow Ahimsa (non-violence) . President of FIACONA, Reverend Bernard Malik says, "Since VHP does not follow Ahimsa, it has no right to represent Hindus, it has become a militant organization that most of the Hindus do not identify with, and thus in the interest of the Hindus and in the national interest of secularism, FIACONA demands an immediate ban on the VHP." Mr. Titus Mathew General Secretary said," Because of its bloody track record VHP should be disowned by all Indians and particularly by Hindus for misrepresentation of true Hindu values."