By Kent Price
First Christian Church of Elkins
Can you imagine what would happen if our Gov. Joe Manchin and the West Virginia Legislature decided to cancel Christmas? Pass a law that forbids gathering on Dec. 25. No church services allowed, no traveling, everybody has to stay at home, no visiting relatives, no singing of carols so loud that your neighbors could hear, etc. What an uproar it would cause. Even Wal-Mart would be upset.
That is a possibility in the state of Orissa in India. A few weeks ago, a religious leader of the Hindu religion in Orissa was murdered. The Hindus blamed it on the Christians. Sounds like Nero and the burning of Rome. The extremist Hindus rioted.
I have read reports that 30 pastors have been killed. More than 300 Christians killed with thousands of Christians fleeing their homes to live in the jungle. The government basically did nothing.
The Communist Maoist Party claimed responsibility. That did not stop the persecution of Christians. As even leaders in Orissa said that if the Christians were not forcing people to convert to Christianity there would be no persecution.
That would appear to be absurd as no one is forced to become a Christian in our world today. It appears the Christians are easy targets. They represent only 2 to 3 percent of the population. Most are the poorest of the population.
The response of the government is to consider the possibility of closing Dec. 25. The reasoning is if there is no celebration then the anger of the Hindus will not be aroused. But from what I have been reading, the government would like to cancel it anyway and not have to deal with the Christians.
Of course, the Hindus know that Dec.25 is a holiday for the Christians and may attack anyway. Some of the extremists have threatened to do such anyway. We need to be praying that it will not happen.
Is it not amazing that you do not see anything in the media about this situation?
Thankfully, we live in a country where the possibility of Christmas being canceled is not imaginable. Again we need to pray that our country never changes to where that could be a possibility.
I know of missionaries from Randolph County who are working in another state of India, and they tell me the persecution of Christians is something that they have to live with. It is something that is always in the back of their mind. The whole nation of India is antagonistic toward Christianity. That is hard for us to imagine.
For the extremist Hindu, it makes no difference that the Christians are feeding the poor and orphaned and that they have homes for the disabled. For them, it just interferes with their religion.
In India, I am told that Christmas for the Christians is probably more important than Easter. Many are poor and Christmas is the only time that they get a new set of clothes that are to last the whole year. If Christmas was that important to you, how would you feel if it was canceled?
Christmas is such an important time for us. It reminds us of the desire to have peace on earth. When we look at situations like India, we also realize peace on earth is only a dream that will never come about. Why? Because of the evil that the evil one causes in this world.
One of the hopes of Christmas is that God's son came to show us the way to real peace. Life in heaven. We still need to pray for peace. We still need to do what we can to help others - brothers or foe.
Christmas is more than presents, family, worship. It is, "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" which means "God with us."
(The opinions of this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Inter-Mountain, the Randolph County Ministerial Association or the author's church affiliation.)