Beliefnet

“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.

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

Now, Christians throughout India are worrying about Gandhi’s dream. When your family is being driven out of their home because of your faith, it is not easy to rejoice and be glad. Even so, the Indian Christians tell of finding peace knowing they are fulfilling Jesus’ words that they would be hated, hunted down, persecuted – and forced to leave everything.

Days after the first incidents, a mob from a local Hindu student union, along with extremists from the towns of Tulsibari and Jharapata, attacked various Christians in Tulsibari, according to a variety of reports.

The extremists dragged Christians out of their homes and forced them to attend a public meeting where the Hindus threatened to expel the new Christians from their homes – or kill them – if they did not denounce Christianity and re-embrace the Hindu gods. When the Christians refused, the extremists beat two of them, including a  widow, and tried to force them to sign a blank paper before hundreds of witnesses. The paper would have then been filled in with pledges that would legally reconvert the Christians to Hinduism.

When the Christians refused, they were told they would be forced

to leave town – leaving behind anything they could not carry with them.

A Catholic nun protests recent violence

That scene was repeated at Jharapata. A mob stopped 10 newly converted Christians who were returning home from a Sunday worship service, beat them and threatened them for five hours if they did not renounce Christ – and reveal who had led them to become Christians.

What would Gandhi have done? “The spirit of non-violence necessarily leads to humility,” he once wrote. “Non-violence means reliance on God, the rock of ages. If we would seek His aid, we must approach Him with a humble and contrite heart.”

The recent incidents “are driven by ultra-nationalist Hindus of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party,” writes an Indian Christian, Nirmala Carvalho. But even more disturbing, “in both cases, the police arrested the Christians.”

Police also sought evidence that the Christians must have bribed or forced the Hindus to convert to Christianity. In the village of Pati near the city of Indore in the Bhalwani district of India’s Madhya Pradesh state, the police arrested a preacher who, as with local practice, uses only a single name, Arjun, along with one of the faithful of his church, named Rakesh. The two were conducting a prayer meeting along with 75 other Christians.

After hours of questioning, police released the three without filing any charges. A similar episode occurred in nearby Keshavapura after police received complaints from extremists. Police arrested a pastor named Manjunath and traveling Christian evangelists named Stella and Bhavani. The three had been distributing leaflets about Christianity at the bus station in the town of Hubli.

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