I made two trips to India in the 1980s. I watch the country with real interest since I have seen the Church there personally. The growth of the Church and the persecution of the Church varies from state to state within India.
On January 16 a large group of Christians, gathered for prayer, were attacked by a mob of Hindu extremists in the central Indian state of Chhattisgaph. The mob chased the worshipers away, set fire to a car and ten motorcycles and threatened to cut the woman who was leading the meeting "into pieces."
This incident is becoming more and more common. Hindu extremists in India’s "tribal belt"—where missionaries have long sought to convert traditionally animist forest-dwellers—have stepped up a vicious anti-Christian campaign, according to The Economist (February 9-15, 2008). Over Christmas in nearby Orissa mobs set fire to 55 churches and 600 homes. The Center for Study of Society and Secularism called calls it "the worst anti-Christian violence independet India has seen."
The state president of Chhattisgaph blames the Christians for the violence. He says Hindus are being converted illegally. No one know the real number of Christians in India. Official estimates are that only 3% are Christian but almost everyone agrees the number is closer to 6%. I have seen evidence that parts of India are as much as 15-20% Christian, especially in the south.
One of the more controversial actions of Christian pastors in parts of India is to rip into Hindu gods directly from their pulpits. This practice is questionable at best and unnecessary in order to preach the gospel effectively. But right-wing Hindu groups seem to be using religious minorities as a common enemy to rally their own people.
Pray for Indian Christians. There are some of the finest Christians I have ever met in India but they need our prayer and concern now more than ever.