The National United Christian Forum in India has called churches to observe September 7 as a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace and Goodwill in response to the violence against Christians in the state of Orissa. The Forum invites all Christians to “kindly join us in this special prayer to pray for the families who have lost their dear ones and the survivors who are still hiding in the forest and those who are in the relief camps striving for food and shelter.”
A special order of prayer has been prepared for September 7.
The violence started after the killing of a prominent radical Hindu leader on August 23. The killing of Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati was immediately condemned by the National Council of Churches in India and other church groups. Although a Maoist rebel group has claimed responsibility for the killings, radical Hindu militants blame Christians.
Citing a report by the National United Christian Forum, the World Council of Churches notes that "have been destroyed over the last ten days, as a result of the ‘worst ever communal riots against Christians,’ . . . Of those who have fled their villages, some 13,000 are living in nine relief camps run by the government. Some 200 villages were affected, with hundreds of churches burnt down."
Many of the Christians are Dalits – the lowest caste, formerly called "Untouchables." A point of contention between Hindus and Christians is the conversion of Dalits with Hindus claiming that Christians offer bribes to encourage people to convert.
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) leaders have expressed our concern and solidarity to our church partners in India and to leaders of the Indian government and called Presbyterians to prayer. The Church of North India is our partner church in the state of Orissa. The World Council of Churches has joined in the appeal to observe September 7 as a Day of Prayer and Fasting.