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India: Village posts banners telling Christians not to enter

Christians are being treated as aliens and outsiders in this village, but in fact, Christianity has been in India since apostolic times, brought there by St. Thomas the Apostle in A.D. 52, as attested by St. Ephraim, St. John Chrysostom and St. Gregory the Theologian, among others. St. Thomas was martyred in India in A.D. 72.

Today the Malankara Orthodox Church of the East still survives there, an apostolic Church that broke with Holy Orthodoxy over the Council of Chalcedon in 451. There also remains a small number of Orthodox Christians under the jurisdiction of the the Holy Metropolis of Singapore. Roman Catholics and Protestants came to the Indian Subcontinent much later. As this article shows, Christians are frequently persecuted in India, treated as “Untouchables” by the Hindu majority. This persecution occasionally turns violent. Christians of the ancient apostolic Churches are less often subjected to this treatment than are evangelical Protestants, but this persecution is a matter of concern for all Christians, and for all people of good will who believe in the dignity of every human person and in every person’s freedom to worship as his or her conscience dictates.

“Gujarat: In Navsari tribal village, ‘ban Christian entry’ banners spring up,” Express News Service, January 29, 2019:

Banners and boards have sprung up in Navsari district’s Gandeva village, dominated by tribals, announcing a “ban on entry of outsider Christians”. Local Hindu tribals, who have put up the banners, said that the “ban” was to prevent “outsiders from coming to the village and converting tribal Hindus”.

Written in Gujarati, a banner at the village entry point on Haripura street read: “Christi dharm parnara tamam bhai-behano Gandeva Haripura faliya ma baharno koipan vyakti e faliya ma pravesh karvo nahi (All the outsider brothers-sisters of Christian religion, should not enter into Haripura street).”

The village has a population of 7,500 with majority of them belonging to Halpati community, a Scheduled Tribe, while others are Bakshipanch.

“Local Hindus are fed up with the spread of Christianity in our village. At present, there are over 900 Christians in our village. There are 70 tribal houses, out of which 12 families have converted to Christianity. On every Sunday morning, Christian priests from different neighbouring districts come and preache Christianity, and lures innocent tribals to get converted into Christianity,” said Jayanti Mistry, the deputy sarpanch of the village.

According the village sarpanch, Satish Katariya, the conversion began around eight years ago when first prayer hall of Christians was built. “Five years later, a second prayer hall was built, then the third prayer hall was built on Hathwada street, and the fourth prayer hall was built around one and half year ago on Kharel street. Local Hindu tribals do not want that such prayer hall to be built on Haripura street. So, they may have hanged such banners. Those who convert to Christianity are farm labourers or do petty jobs,” he said.

The sarpanch said that till date, no one has opposed such banners. “But we have come to know that Christians in our village are unhappy. We have urged the villagers to maintain peace,” he added….

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