Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Blasphemous Image of Jesus Fuels Tension in India

An image of Jesus holding a beer and a cigarette is the latest source of tensions between Christians and Hindu fundamentalists in India.

In the northwestern state of Punjab, the image -- originally in a school textbook -- was made poster-size and displayed on the streets. After Christian requests that the posters be taken down, violence erupted, according to L'Osservatore Romano.

The confrontations spread: Two Protestant churches were set on fire and pulled down, and another was seriously damaged.

Indian bishops launched an appeal for peace and announced plans to write a protest letter to education officials.

Father Babu Joseph, spokesman of the Indian episcopal conference, explained to Fides news agency that the publisher of the textbook -- Skyline Publications of New Delhi -- is not exactly "a direct expression of Hindu fundamentalist movements, but it certainly is sympathetic to them and is supported by certain rather extreme circles."

The spokesman said the bishops "have condemned this blasphemous act and renew their appeal for peace in Punjab and across India." READ MORE

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