A trio of Christian families in India have been beaten and issued death threats for refusing to engage in pagan worship.
The incident occurred on 4th May when the village religious leader in Salepal in Bastar District, Chhattisgarh, started hosting an animist worship gathering on a paddy field belonging to the Christian families. According to reports, when the Christians tried to stop them the group refused and threatened to confiscate the land, even going as far as accusing the Christians of worshipping a foreign god.
The next day, the Christian families were summoned to an open village meeting by 50-60 tribal leaders, where they were verbally abused, beaten and threatened with death. During the attack, the families were told to renounce their faith and embrace the animist religion, which encapsulates the belief that all objects, places and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence. The Christians repeatedly refused. The beating was so brutal that one of the believers was knocked unconscious - the victims were eventually rushed to the government hospital in Dimrapal, Jagdalpur where they were treated for their injuries.
Following the attack, the three families have been kicked out of their village and have been forced to take refuge in a neighbouring town for fear of their lives. The police have yet to take any investigative action in the case, despite a written complaint being filed at the police station in Kodenar, Bastar District, on 6th May.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide's chief executive Mervyn Thomas said: “CSW is deeply concerned for the wellbeing of these families, who have been deliberately singled out and attacked due to their Christian faith. Clearly the families are now in a desperate need to return to their homes and agricultural livelihoods. The authorities must act without delay to investigate the matter and hold the perpetrators responsible for the attacks. The Christians must be assured that there will be impartiality in the investigation and that they will be able to continue to live in the village without fear of further discrimination and attack. Their livelihoods must be protected at all cost.”