Tribal animists wielding axes surrounded a church building in eastern India and threatened to “chop” Christians “to pieces” before burning the church to the ground amid escalating persecution in the south Asian country.
According to Morning Star News, animists in Odisha state’s Perigaon village, Rayagada District, staged the attack on Dec. 1 after they raided Christians’ homes where they seizes and burned Bibles five days earlier. Animists worship gods based on ancestors, spirits, and nature.
“After we concluded the prayers and community lunch service [on Dec. 1], a batch of around 15 tribal men came with axes, surrounded the church and threatened that they will chop us into pieces,” pastor Bibudhan Pradhan told Morning Star News.
The assailants surrounded the pastor and his wife as they were trying to return to their home in another town, he said.
“They took us inside the village and held us hostage for more than four hours,” Pradhan said. “They abused us in vulgar language, words that I can’t utter with my mouth, and threatened us that their gods and goddesses will swallow us alive for propagating Christianity in an Adivasi [indigenous tribal] hamlet.”
Eventually, the assailants released the couple after ordering them to stop holding worship services and never again enter the village. That night, the animists set the mud-and-bamboo structure on fire, the pastor said.
“Christians from the Adivasi hamlet reside about 1 kilometer far from the church site,” Pradhan said. “But the fire spread faster, and within 10 to 15 minutes the roof made of dry grass shattered, and the bamboos also caught fire.”
A few days earlier, a gang of drunken animists raided the homes of several Christians as they slept, destroying any Bibles they discovered.
“They were horrified by what happened the night before,” he said. “The drunk men abused the Christian families in filthy language and forcefully searched their homes for Bibles. The Christians tried hard to resist them to no avail. They gathered the Bibles from Christian homes at one spot at the center of the village, poured kerosene and lit fire.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett