Friday, June 20, 2008
Christians Caught Up in Crackdown on Hindu Faith Healers
Several Christian pastors in the state of Kerala in India have been targets of police raids."We are not against any religion or spiritual leader. But we have received several complaints against many faith healers, who have mushroomed in the state,"Kerala Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told India's UCA News.The minister further added that the Indian government wants to keep an eye on spiritual leaders who become "rich within a short period."Last week, police raided the office and residence of Abraham Kuruvilla, a famous Christian who started Heavenly Feast Ministries in 1998.The ministry’s weekly Sunday prayer meetings in Kottayam claims to gather more than 20,000 people and boasts of 100,000 members from various religions.A representative of the Heavenly Feast Ministries said the police raid does not bother them and that "it is all a media creation.""If we have done anything wrong, let the law punish us. But the media is trying to tarnish our image among the public," said the representative.Also being investigated is Bishop K.P. Yohannan, who heads the Believers Church and Gospel for Asia. The church owns vast properties, including schools, theological colleges and even rubber plantations. Bishop Samuel Mathew, the group's second-highest official, said the Believer's Church has 1.5 million followers in Bangladesh, India, Burma, Nepal and Sri Lanka. In India alone, it also has more than 200 staff, who manage a seminary, Bible colleges and daily programs for around 43,000 children in 400 locations.Mathew said his church has nothing to hide, and that it has cooperated with the police investigations and recorded all received donations.The crackdown on spiritual leaders and "faith healers" began last month after police arrested a Hindu godman, Amritha Chaithanya alias Santosh Madhavan, on fraud cases, and for allegedly amassing illegal wealth. Police also allegedly recovered pornographic CDs from lockers in his home showing sexually indecent acts with minor girls.The incident has led to a crackdown on several Hindu godmen, including Himaval Maheswarananda Bhadrananda, who tried to shoot at the media during a police raid.“The police are involving and investigating Christians due to the framed allegations of Hindu fundamentalists who are irked by the crackdown against many Hindi godmen,” Pastor Abraham Kotaikal from the Revival Ministries in Kerala told Christian Today.“It is a testing time, and the ministries in the state require prayers from all believers,” he added.
As in the days of Noah....