Just been reading up on some of the recent violence between Christians and Hindu communities in Orrisa, a state in Eastern India. Emily Wax has a good article in the Washington Post. This article states:
The recent violence was triggered by the Aug. 23 killing in Orissa of a shadowy octogenarian figure known as Laxmanananda Saraswati, who had been linked with a Hindu radical group. He was actively trying to re-convert Christians to Hinduism. A letter left at the scene claimed that Maoist rebels had carried out the attack. Federal investigators agree that Maoists were to blame, but many Hindus blame Christians.
The article also claims that:
All told, as many as 4,000 Christian homes and 115 churches were destroyed in the region. Amid the lush corn and rice farms of Kandhamal district, more than 35 people were killed for their faith, the All India Christian Council reported; government officials estimate 18 deaths.
It appears that Hindus are upset over the high rate of convert of tribal people to Christianity and have resorted to violence to show their discontent. The article also states that:
Conversions to Christianity have been happening fast among impoverished tribal communities in Kandhamal, a remote district with few links to the outside world or state services. The Christian population here, largely made up of traditionally nature-worshiping ethnic groups, has swelled from 6 percent in 1971 to 27 percent today, according to government census data.
Some people who convert often get better access to schools and health clinics run by Western Christian groups. But they lose their official status with the government as members of a disadvantaged caste and with it jobs and university seats reserved under the affirmative action program.
Christians among one such ethnic group, the Panos, have recently been agitating to continue to collect those benefits anyway. Some Hindu activists see this request as ridiculous. They say that Christians have rejected the Hindu-sanctioned caste system and should not get the benefits.
“The violence is in the name of religion. But what is really fueling it is jealousy over who is getting education, reservations and status,” said Golden Kumar Naik, a Christian convert who works in development and whose 11-room home was burned. “People are still very poor in this country; there are not enough jobs. There is fear that there won’t be enough for the Hindus, too.”
It seems people are just trying to make a better life for themselves and religion has become a means to more economic advantages. But what the article fails to mention is the scope of the missionary work in this region and who is actively trying to convert the tribal people. I don’t condone violence and it seems what is happening to these communities is tragic, but we must look for the root of the problem and I have a gut feeling that the age old tactic of a proselytizing religion which seeks to save the souls of those who have not been shown the Truth may be at fault.
Here is one Hindu man’s opinion quoted in the article:
“The church uses cash to steal souls,” Chauhan said. “It’s destroying Hindu culture.”