India's Christians ask: What would Gandhi do?

St. Thomas brought the faith to the subcontinent in 52 a.d. and Gandhi called for peace and plurality -- but persecution is growing.

Continued from page 2

Using modern technology, India’s Christians have written to friends throughout the country as well as to outside groups such as Compass Direct, International Christian Concern, Voice of the Martyrs and Open Doors. Their plight has become of enormous concern to millions of Christians worldwide, who are praying for them. However, the converts have not pleaded for armed intervention – or even for groups of fellow Indian Christians to hurry to Assam to defend them.

Christians in Orissa worshipping after their church building was torched

Instead, their messages tell of the honor they feel to be treated in the same way as so many great founders of Christianity – and of Gandhi – who himself was martyred by such Hindu extremists for proclaiming such things as:

“Hatred ever kills, love never dies such is the vast difference between the two. What is obtained by love is retained for all time. What is obtained by hatred proves a burden in reality for it increases hatred.”

And: “God is, even though the whole world deny him. Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self-sustained. Defeat cannot dishearten me. I know that God will guide me. Truth is superior to man’s wisdom.”

Gandhi’s advice shortly before he was struck down by an assassin’s bullet?

“There are times when you have to obey a call which is the highest of all, the voice of conscience – even though such obedience may cost many a bitter tear, and even more, separation from friends, from family, from the state to which you may belong, from all that you have held as dear as life itself. For this obedience is the law of our being.

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How did Gandhi suggest standing up to persecution?

“Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit. If we want to cultivate a true spirit of democracy we cannot afford to be intolerant. Intolerance betrays want of faith in one’s cause.”

Gandhi’s dream for India was of a pluralistic society – with Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, Christians and Buddhists living side by side in peace on the vast subcontinent. However, history records the violent riots that resulted in the partition of India and the formation of separate Muslim countries that became Pakistan and Bangladesh.

A burning church building

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Rob Kerby, Senior Editor
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