Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Secret Christians of India

According to the World Christian Database there are approximately

23 million "secret" Christians in India, that is Indians of either Hindu or Muslim background who baptized and active in Christian communities but have not changed their "official" religious status because of the economic consequences. In addition, there are also

25 million Independent/Apostolic Christians,
19.2 million Protestants,
19.8 million Catholics,
3 million Orthodox(obviously, I've rounded off the figures)
total: 65 million Christians or approximately 6% of the total Indian population.

A small percentage but three times the figure (2%) commonly quoted.

In addition, there is an even more surprising development: What are known as
NBBC's: Non-Baptized Believers in Christ. David Barrett, editor of the World Christian Encyclopedia, estimates that there are 15 million NBBC's in the Hindu and Muslim worlds - usually for reasons of persecution.

Personal faith in Christ of some kind without access to baptism. Of course, NBBC's have always existed through Christian history but globalization is ensuring that their number is becoming ever larger. Imagine: fifteen million underground catechumens.

Pray for them and for the secret Christians of India as they seek Christ(because he first sought them!)in a very difficult time and place. Intentional Disciples

Most of these Indian Christians come from what Hindus used to term the "Untouchable" caste, now called the more politically correct term, Dalit. Indians like to refer to their country as the "world's largest democracy." But that is a fraud. For India, that has a population of 1.1 billion, only 60% literate, has upwards of 150 million of its people being Dalit, and thus disenfranchised, especially in rural aras.

Gashwin Gomes, a Catholic blogger at Maior autem his est caritas, has a good post with lots of links on this subject including a recent Wall Street Journal article.

Thanks to Georgette, who still is there in Hyderabad, but sadly, now blog-less, formerly of Chronicle of a Meandering Traveller. Actually, it is not quite true that she is blogless; while she no longer posts, her wonderful posts on St Francis Xavier (an apostle to India), on her life in India, and the Catholic view of ghosts, thanks to Google and other search engines, keep up a steady stream of visitors to her site.

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