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Reconversion ceremony - Photo: Morning Star News www.morningstarnews.org
A forced reconversion ceremony.
Photo: Morning Star News

Christians who had been worshipping privately in their homes were dragged before local village leaders and forced to participate in a "reconversion" rite on June 14th. The action follows a pronouncement two days earlier that 12 Christian families in Mahuatoli would be banished if they did not return to the tribal Sarna religion. As a result of the threats, most have fled the village.

According to an area pastor, threats are common in the Gumla District of Jharkhand, where Hindu militants have joined together with tribalists to revolt against the growth of Christianity. In this instance, a mob of 20 villagers broke into the home of Jogiya Munda, forcing him and his widowed mother to bow before an idol. Buckets of water were poured on them to symbolize the purification rite.

The two victimized Christians have since fled the village after receiving threats on their lives if they were again found to be praying. However, the members of two other families, who were also forced against their wills to undergo the ritual, have decided to remain in the village.

On June 17th, the Christian families went to the police in Bharno to file a complaint, but officers refused to file the case. The officials instead told them to arrange a compromise. They then filed their complaint online. However, officials at the Bharno police station claim they were never approached. The officer in charge states, "There are no religious issues in Mahuatoli village and everyone is living in peace." For more details on some of the persecution issues facing Christians in India, go to our country report.

Pray that those who've been forced to flee the village will find homes and jobs in a community where they can live in harmony and peace. Remember the members of the two remaining Christian families who, for undisclosed reasons, are staying behind. In addition to receiving God's protection, may these remaining families also have the faith and courage to stand for Christ despite the threats. Intercede for the official in charge and his officers who failed to respond appropriately to the believers' complaints, praying that they will take their policing responsibilities seriously by properly defending villagers whose lives are in danger.