Missionary, pastor, and others attacked with swords, sticks, and crowbars after service
A dozen or so suspected Hindu radicals associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) attacked an American missionary, an Indian pastor, and the pastor's family last night after an evangelistic meeting in Thiruvananthapuram in the southern Indian state of Kerala (audio).
Joseph Cooper, a bishop of the New Jerusalem Universal Church (a small, Marietta, Ohio-based Pentecostal denomination run by revivalist Haskel Swain), received a deep cut on his hand and wounds on his arm and body. He told the Associated Press that the attackers "first exploded a firecracker and frightened us. They detained us for a while. Someone from the group attacked me with a sword and I fell down." Others attacked with bamboo sticks and iron bars.
Though there has been a surge in attacks against India's Christian minority (they make up only about 2 percent of the nation's population), Kerala Next reports, "Police said there was no communal tension in the area till the incident took place last night. This was also confirmed by the Pastor Benson, who said that there had been no threat whatsoever to the functioning of the church in the area."
Christians make up nearly a quarter of the Kerala population. "I never had thought of this kind of an attack here," said Cooper, adding that he has traveled from his home in New Castle, Pennsylvania, to Kerala 14 times. "When I am in Kerala, I feel at home."
Five other victims of the attack, including Benson Sam, pastor of the Protestant Friends of Bible Church, his wife, Sali, their two children, and a singer received minor wounds.
Two RSS activists have reportedly been arrested, but RSS leaders say the Hindu radical group, ...1