As battered pastor leaves India, Hindus prepare to force out other missionaries
Joseph Cooper, who was beaten and stabbed by a Hindu mob near Thiruvanthapuram, India, has returned to the United States. But Hindu activists are still pursuing a criminal case against him for violating the terms of his tourist visa by preaching at a Protestant church meeting. A lower court has adjourned the case until tomorrow.
Cooper's situation is bad news for other foreign pastors and missionaries in India. The militant Hindu group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) says it has a list of about 50 other foreign missionaries who are "'similarly' engaged in forced religious conversions or are attending religious functions in 'blatant violation' of their visa provisions," according to India's PTI news service. (One wonders how Cooper's preaching to a room entirely consisting of Christians is an example of forced religious conversions, but then again, the radical Hindus regularly make up claims of "forced" conversions.) The list will be submitted to authorities in the southern state of Kerala. "If the government fails to act, then it will have to face 'direct action' in the form of agitations," VHP state head Kummanam Rajasekharan said. By agitations he apparently means the kind of action that sent Cooper to the hospital.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is India's ruling political party, and supports the VHP and other militant Hindu groups (including the Rashtiriya Swayamsevak Sangh, members of which have been arrested for the attack on Cooper). It also says it will act against foreign Christians. "If the state Government is unable to prevent the forced religious conversions, BJP will mobilize people against such moves," state party chief C. K. Padmanabhan ...1