Hindu mob attacks Christian women
Last week, about three dozen Hindus in the small Indian village of Kilapal, Jagatsinghpur, Orissa, raided the homes of local Christian women and their pastor.

"The villagers came and dragged us out of the house," victim Shanti Tandi wept as she described the attack to the ANI news service. "Then they started beating us and cut our hair. They also pulled at our clothes and accused us of indulging in religious conversion."

That's a conversion from Hinduism to Christianity seven years ago. Manorama reports that "problems cropped up recently when a young man and two daughters of a villager evinced interest in Christianity and attended Sunday worship."

"The other villagers warned us that if we did not reconvert, we would face dire consequences," Nisha Samal, another victim, told Indo-Asian News Service. "They forcibly tonsured us."

The women initially said that the police wouldn't record their complaints, says IANS, but eventually warrants were issued against 35 people in the village of 500 (about 40 percent of the village's population are Dalits, as are all of the victims). Two have been arrested so far.

"Earlier this month, six women, including two 15 year-old girls were dragged out of their homes and were later tortured and tonsured for not reconverting to Hinduism from Christianity," ANI reports.

About 20 Christian residents have since fled the town.

It's an insane incident, but in India such matters are almost always followed by Hindu militants claiming that the Christians brought it on themselves. Sure enough, Subash Chouhan, leader of the Bajrang Dal—which arguably could be called a terrorist organization, but we'll leave it at "Hindu extremist group"—told IANS that "the incident proved that Christians were converting poor Hindus to their religion 'through various inducements.'" Uh huh.

And the story gets even crazier. So crazy that Weblog simply doesn't understand this story from Sify News:

The tonsure episode … has taken a new twist with the police detaining the local pastor of the Christian congregation amidst claims that the priest along with four others had reconverted to Hinduism.
The pastor, Subash Samal, however, said at the Tirtol police station that he had been declared a Hindu against his wishes. Samal said that he along with four other Christians had been forcibly taken to the venue of a yagya being held at Uranda village near Manijanga yesterday. He was taken into custody around midnight last night.
"Some people had declared me as a reconvert to Hinduism against my wishes," he told PTI at the police station where he has been kept under detention since midnight last night. Lata Samal, one of the five reconverted persons, said that they were forcibly taken to the yagya.
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Okay, here's a few clues: A yagya is apparently a Hindu worship ritual involving fire. Orissa has a law that no one can change religion without government approval. Other than that, Weblog doesn't get it. On what grounds are the police holding this pastor, especially if he says he's still a Christian?

As CT readers know, this is not an isolated incident. Fortunately others are also taking note. "Fear-stricken minority Christians from an impoverished central Indian tribal district which witnessed a spurt of communal violence last month, are urging the Indian government to take immediate steps to control the volatile situation," OneWorld reports in a summary of recent events.

In related news, militant Hindus "celebrated" Valentine's Day. Or rather, they attacked anyone and anything recognizing the holiday, which they believe is a form of Christian imperialism. Sify News offers several charming anecdotes sure to win many converts to hardline Hinduism: "One group caught a couple in a park at Bhopal and tonsured the head of the boy. The girl was allowed to go after some indecent comments and alleged fondling. … A disabled man has also been allegedly battered in Gwalior for selling greeting cards. He was beaten up, and his shop damaged. … Unidentified people threw acid on a youth sitting with a girl in a park in Ujjain town. The victim has been admitted to a private hospital, where his condition is said to be improving."

More articles

Attack on Baptist pastors in Iraq:

More on Iraq:

  • Official makes Iraqi constitution threat | The top U.S. administrator in Iraq suggested on Monday that he would block any interim constitution that would make Islam the chief source of law, as some members of the Iraqi Governing Council have sought (Associated Press)

  • Ignoring Iraq's Islamists | A grave and gathering challenge (Paul Marshall, National Review Online)

  • Christians seek greater role in government, Ulemas condemn terrorism | At the convention held yesterday in Iraq's capital 5 Iraqi Christian parties –made up of Chaldean Catholics as well as Assyrian, Armenian and Syriac Orthodox Church members, asked for the "fair representation of all ethnic and religious minorities" in the future Iraqi government (AsiaNews, Italy)

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Southern Baptists to leave BWA, consider new name:

  • Baptist committee votes to leave alliance | The executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention voted Tuesday to withdraw from the Baptist World Alliance, saying it has become too liberal and advocates "aberrant and dangerous theologies" (Associated Press)

  • Southern Baptists move closer to split | The Southern Baptist Convention took another step toward severing ties with the Baptist World Alliance, a group of Baptist entities that it helped form 99 years ago, with a vote by the SBC executive committee (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  • SBC president Jack Graham calls for Southern Baptist name change | "This name that I love and you love speaks of our region and doesn't move us beyond to the great cities of the Northeast, to the West and the Midwest," says Jack Graham (Associated Baptist Press)

Higher education:

  • Retired archbishop's belief in unity finds a home at Seattle U. | Hunthausen Hall will be the new home of the university's School of Theology and Ministry, unique among Catholic ministerial schools for allowing students from both Catholic and Protestant traditions to pursue ministerial degrees together (The Seattle Times)

  • Falwell's fast talkers for Christ | For college debate team, sport is a mission (The Washington Post)

  • Religious leaders condemn varsity ban on prayers | The University of Edinburgh has replaced the centuries-old tradition with secular "reflection" periods amid concerns the prayers could offend non-Christians (PA, U.K.)

  • Also: University scraps prayers at graduation | The University of Edinburgh has scrapped the centuries-old tradition in favour of a secular 'reflection' period following fears that continuing Christian prayers would offend atheists and those from other faiths (Scotland on Sunday)

  • Board stands behind dress code policy | Marlborough Girls' College is unmoved by controversy over its dress code policy (Stuff, New Zealand)

  • University drops theology course | A university that has formal links with the Church of England, and whose chancellor is the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has axed its residential theology degree course (The Daily Telegraph, London)

Teaching atheism in U.K. schols:

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  • Right to disbelieve | Christianity can live with atheism (Editorial, The Observer, London)

  • Would you Adam and Eve it? | Atheism teaching will be dull next to the richness of religion (Mary Kenny, The Guardian, London)

  • Christianity is outclassed | 'Let the little children come to me," said Jesus. He did not add: " … but only after they have been encouraged to question their faith and made aware of the arguments for atheism." That is the proposal from the Institute for Public Policy Research, the New Labour think tank that is attempting to refashion RE lessons along progressive lines. Depressingly, it may succeed (Editorial, The Daily Telegraph, London)


More on education:

Interfaith relations:

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Federal Marriage Amendment:

  • Marriage amendment unlikely soon | Between election-year politics and Congress' aversion to altering the Constitution, a change barring same-sex unions doesn't look imminent (Los Angeles Times)

  • Little consensus on marriage amendment | Even authors disagree on the meaning of its text (The Washington Post)

  • White House waits on marriage issue | The White House will not weigh in on a proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as a heterosexual union until the Massachusetts legislature and the San Francisco courts deal with the matter first, according to prominent homosexual leaders (The Washington Times)

  • FMA time | We need a Federal Marriage Amendment (Lynn D. Wardle, National Review Online)

  • For the Marriage Amendment | The case for a federal marriage amendment (Editorial, The Weekly Standard)

  • The natural order of life | Why the Federal Marriage Amendment is necessary (Brian Fahling, The Washington Times)

Gay marriage … :

  • Same-sex couples fail to gain official blessing | Northampton County refuses to recognize unions, even as call for equality goes up (The Express-Times, Bethlehem, Pa.)

  • Gay marriage debate: Enough already | Whether you're for it or against it, many of us just don't want to hear about it anymore (Jonah Goldberg, The Washington Times)

  • Gay marriage: Gavin Newsom's gift to Bush | Just when Bush's support and his poll standings are shrinking, here come San Francisco's city-county sanctioned gay marriages - almost certain to be declared invalid anyway - to rouse Bush's base (Peter Schrag, The Sacramento Bee, Ca.)

  • Sermons will tackle hot subject | The sermons are not likely to rival the fire-breathing wrath of Jonathan Edwards's classic "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," but congregants may hear a few choice words from pastors outraged by the Legislature's failure to outlaw gay marriage (Milford Daily News, Mass.)

  • Gay marriage in the states | By sparking discussion on gay marriage, Massachusetts and San Francisco will allow the country to observe a social experiment in action (Editorial, The New York Times)

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… in San Francisco:

  • Pro-family groups set back in bid to end gay 'marriage' | Pro-family groups suffered two losses yesterday in their legal bid to have San Francisco immediately cease issuing "marriage" licenses to homosexual couples (The Washington Times)

  • Gay weddings continue in S.F., for now | After two judges declined to immediately end San Francisco's same-sex wedding spree, the mayor said the city would keep issuing marriage licenses to gay couples as conservative groups vowed to take their case to higher courts (Associated Press)

  • S.F. judge won't halt marriages | The city gets until March 29 to return to court and defend the merits of allowing same-sex unions. Count tops 2,600 couples (Los Angeles Times)

  • Gay weddings continue in San Francisco as lawyers argue | Scores of same-sex couples were married on Tuesday as two judges hearing challenges to the marriages stopped short of immediately halting them (The New York Times)

  • 2nd S.F. judge delays ruling on gay marriages | Superior Court Judge James Warren told plaintiffs he would not issue a court order until they corrected a punctuation error in their legal filing (Los Angeles Times)

  • 820 more same-sex couples wed | Officials work without pay through weekend to process more than 2,400 marriage licenses (Los Angeles Times)

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  • Inland has mixed view of gay issue | Inland residents who are gay welcomed San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's declaration that the city would issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of state law (The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Ca.)

  • Even in S.F., religions still divided over gay marriage | Catholics, Muslims steadfast over ban on same-sex unions (San Francisco Chronicle)

  • Outrage where it's due | Those who claim that San Francisco's gay marriage-fest signals the end of civilization need to get their outrage odometers adjusted (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)

  • Gay couples rush to San Francisco | Opponents of same-sex marriage fail to stop city from marrying partners (The Washington Post)

  • Licenses to gay couples top 2,000 | The city of San Francisco has issued more than 2,000 "marriage" licenses to homosexual couples over the past four days, an act of civil disobedience that attorneys for two traditional-values groups will seek to end in court today (The Washington Times)

… In New Hampshire:

… In Georgia:

  • Gay marriage backers, foes flock to House | Activists on both sides of the gay marriage debate turned their attention to the House on Tuesday, a day after state senators approved putting a constitutional ban on same-sex unions on the ballot (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Ga. House should divorce Senate's gay marriage ban | Supporters of gay marriage lost a Senate battle Monday. Adulterers, however, remain safe (Editorial, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Gay wedlock would lead to worse | We should not underestimate the power of continued Hollywood marketing of homosexuality, the human drive for pleasure and official government approval to mold behavior in this area (George M. Weaver, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Ex-Georgia legislator leads foes of gay marriage | Ronald A. Crews is the current president of the Massachusetts Family Institute (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

… In Mass.:

  • Same-sex marriage divides Mass. | Like its Legislature, the citizenry remains deeply split over whether to become the first state to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed (Los Angeles Times)

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  • Massachusetts at impasse on gay 'marriage' | Massachusetts lawmakers ended last week's 19-hour debate over creating a state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex "marriages" with three rejected amendments. When (The Washington Times)

Bishop hit-and-run:


Clergy abuse:

  • L.A. archdiocese reports on abuse claims | Los Angeles church officials say that, over the decades, they received allegations from 656 people who said they had been molested by 244 priests, deacons, religious brothers, seminarians and one other person (Associated Press)

  • Activists comment on L.A. clergy report | Victims of sexual abuse by priests say the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the nation's largest, did not go far enough when it released a report that found 244 priests and other church officials had been accused of abuse since 1930 (Associated Press)

  • Los Angeles Archdiocese names those accused of abuse since 1930 | The Los Angeles Archdiocese is the third of the 195 American dioceses to disclose the names of accused abusers, spokesmen for both the national bishops conference and victims advocacy groups said (The New York Times)

  • Mahony: Protecting minors 'job 1' | The cardinal says the number of alleged victims of molestations by priests is surprisingly high, but that promised action is being taken (Los Angeles Times)

  • Mahony's mea culpas not very convincing | If you don't know what to do about a priest pushing himself on a defenseless child, you shouldn't be wearing a collar, let alone running a diocese (Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times)

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
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