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Published On: Thu, Feb 13th, 2014

Christian persecution detailed in House meeting as Christianity expands where ‘freedom is lacking’

Experts gathered and spoke before a US House committee about the global persecution against Christians, noting the increases in violence in Africa and India.

Global_War_on_Christians_by_John_L_Allen_JrJohn L. Allen, Jr., author of “The Global War on Christians,” today told the U.S. House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations that one reason Christians are increasingly persecuted is that Christianity is expanding in countries where religious freedom is lacking. Some states in India are prime examples. While most estimates of deaths from the 2008 attacks in India’s Orissa (now Odisha) state are around 100, Allen said the figure could be as high as 500.

“India’s northeastern state of Orissa was the scene of the most violent anti-Christian pogrom of the early 21st century,” he said. “In 2008, a series of riots ended with as many as 500 Christians killed, many hacked to death by machete-wielding Hindu radicals, and thousands more injured and at least 50,000 left homeless.”

Tehmina Arora, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom-India (ADF-India), told the subcommittee that the impunity that violent mobs enjoy is an important factor in anti-Christian persecution in India.

“Police resist filing criminal complaints and have on several instances allegedly threatened to falsely incriminate victims in some cases,” she said. “The hostility of the state machinery towards the victims of communal and targeted violence was most evident in the aftermath of the violence in Orissa. The National People’s Tribunal on Kandhamal, a private inquiry titled ‘Waiting for Justice’ clearly outlined the apathy of the state administration towards the victims and their families. The report also highlighted the fear faced by victims and survivors as well as the refusal of police to register complaints.”

In many casesonly orders from the High Court in Orissa prompted police to file First Information Reports against assailants, Arora said.

“I was attacked during the 2008 riot and my house was burnt,” Gajana Digal told ADF-India. “I lodged an FIR in the local police station, Tikabali, which was not registered against the accused persons … I have repeatedly sought help from the local police station for my protection but no action was taken in spite of my petition dated 19 May 2010 against the criminals with specific names like Dahia Mallick, Sudhira Pradhan, Ajiban Mallick, Mantu Gauda and Biranchi Behera. My petition was not registered and no action was taken against the accused persons.”

Though the Orissa government claims it took strict action against the accused, statistics show that of 827 FIRs filed, charges were brought in only 512. Just 75 cases ended in convictions, with only 477 people convicted, primarily for smaller or “petty” offences such as burning of houses and damaging property, she said.

“Only nine people have been convicted for their role in killing of the Christians,” Arora told the subcommittee. “Human right activists claim that as many as 84,000 people were accused by the victims in the over 2,500 complaints sent to the police. The acquittals have been due to shoddy investigation and lack of judicial oversight.”

Elliott Abrams, a commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), told the subcommittee that lack of an ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom has sent a message of apathy to countries that routinely persecute religious minorities.

“The president last week at the National Prayer Breakfast suggested a nomination would be coming quickly – I hope so, because this is the key official within the U.S. government in the executive branch, coordinating and developing U.S. policy for international religious freedom,” Abrams said. “And if there is a long vacancy, it weakens the attention of the executive branch, it weakens the efforts of the executive branch, and it sends a message to countries around the world of inattention and lack of concern.”

Obama left the post vacant until midway through his second year in office, finally nominating Susan Johnson Cook on June 15, 2009. The Senate put a hold on her nomination, which then expired at the end of the 111th session of Congress on Jan. 3, 2011; she was re-nominated and confirmed in April 2011, but she resigned in October of last year.

The Obama administration has not set a timeline to nominate another ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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