Hindu extremists suspected in arsons

SEEKANANKUPPAM, India — Three church buildings were set ablaze in six weeks in southern India, the most attacks against Christians this year, sources said.

A church building in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state was burned after Christians refused to donate to an annual Hindu festival, they said. Members of Kingdom of God Church were on their way home after an evening service June 11 in Seekanankuppam when the fire began.

In Thiruvannamalai, an Advent Christian Church building was set on fire May 5 by arsonists who ran away when neighbors spotted them, Pastor Govrathnam Anbarasan said. The church was holding Vacation Bible School the same week but had finished for the day before the fire was set.

Nehemiah Christie, director of legislations and regulations of the Synod of Pentecostal Churches in Tamil Nadu, said Tamil Nadu was previously known for upholding secularism and unity, but violent trends against Christians are increasing, especially in remote areas where churches have roofs of tar paper or coconut leaves that burn easily.
India ranked 11th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians experience the most persecution. (MS)