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India: Churches warned to not celebrate Christmas

21 December 2016

Churches warned to not celebrate Christmas

Churches have been threatened with dire consequences if they celebrate Christmas and a curfew put in place as tensions rise in Manipur, India, between two local ethnic groups - the Hindu-majority Meitei people and Christian-majority hill tribes (including the Naga people).

Church attacked in political unrest, others threatened

Rifts because of political issues between the Meitei people and hill tribes have been longstanding, but in a disagreement on 15 December over the formation of a new district in Lokchow, near Tengnoupal, three security personnel were killed by a Naga insurgency group and Meitei Hindus called a strike across Manipur.

Then, on 17 December, locals attacked a church which is attended by a large Naga congregation, the Manipur Baptist Church Centre (MBCC). It was pelted with stones, glass was broken, and the gate was damaged.

A poster was left, warning: "No one is allowed to worship and celebrate Christmas without prior permission."

Nearby, the Tangkhul Baptist Church Imphal, which is less than two miles from MBCC, was warned by the same attackers that if they conduct worship services, the church will be burnt down.

"This is planned to create problems for the Christians"

Due to the rise of communal tension in the state, Addl Chief Secy announced internet data services in the state would stop immediately, and a curfew has been put in place until 25 December.

A local pastor told an Open Doors volunteer, "This might just seem to be a communal issue, but this is all planned to create problems for the Christians as even the government has announced curfew till Christmas."

Persecution in India

Persecution against Christians in India is rising, and it is extremely violent. In the reporting period for the Open Doors 2016 World Watch List, more than 350 Christians were physically attacked, at least nine Christians were killed for their faith and at least three women were raped. Attacks mainly come from Hindu extremists.

Source: Open Doors

Please pray:

  • Thank God that no-one was injured in the attack on the MBCC
  • That, despite the threats, Christians would be able to celebrate Christmas in freedom and safety
  • For tensions in Manipur to die down and that believers would be able to spread the gospel message.

More News from India:

Find out more about persecution in India.