Burning items on the street

Reported 24 churches have been burnt in the city of Jaranwala, eastern Pakistan.

Bishop Azad Marshal, moderator  of the Church of Pakistan commented in social media, “Words fail me as I write this. We, Bishops, Priests, and lay people are deeply pained and distressed at the Jaranwala incident in the Faisalabad District in Pakistan. A church building is being burnt as I type this message. Bibles have been desecrated and Christians have been tortured and harassed having been falsely accused of violating the Holy Quran.” He added “We cry out for justice and action from law enforcement and those who dispense justice and the safety of all citizens to intervene immediately and assure us that our lives are valuable in our homeland that has just celebrated independence and freedom.”

Rev. Romella Robinson, a World Council of Churches central committee member from the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan, wrote with a heavy heart and deep concern.

The actions of the Muslim extremist mobare a stark reminder that while Pakistan achieved visible independence, the essence of humanity and compassion is still struggling to find its place in the hearts of some,” wrote Robinson.

It is essential to recognize that God's true teachings embody justice, peace, and love, noted Robinson. Violence and terror stand in opposition to these principles and reflect a distorted interpretation of faith,” wrote Robinson. Such incidents, including the current wave of persecution in Pakistan, lay bare a lack of integrity before God and our fellow humans.”

We, as Christians, firmly believe in sharing God's love unconditionally, Robinson added. While we strive to forgive those who perpetrate violence, we cannot ignore the destruction and fragility inflicted upon Christians and their places of worship in Pakistan,” Robinson urged. The persecution faced by minorities not only infringes upon their basic rights but also challenges the ethical standards upheld by civilized societies.”

These actions undermine the very promise of safety, protection, and religious freedom that Pakistan claims to provide for its citizens, continued Robinson. The present environment of fear, anger, and hopelessness is further exacerbated by economic challenges, unemployment, and a sense of lawlessness,” Robinson wrote. In this critical time, it is imperative to amplify the voice of Pakistani Christian nationals on a global scale.”

Robinson further urged drawing the attention of affiliated organizations and individuals to stand in solidarity with Christians in Pakistan. It is time for a resolute and just response that preserves the prosperity of Pakistan, an achievement we all commemorate as its nationals, transcending religious, ethnic, gender, and social differences,” Robinson wrote. Amidst the turbulence, we hold onto the hope for a peaceful resolution.”

A dark chapter

Rev. Sharaz Sharif Alam, general secretary of the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan, also expressed a heavy heart.

This day marks one of the darkest chapters in the history of Pakistan,” wrote Alam. Our faith teaches us the values of respect, compassion, and coexistence, and the destruction of holy places and homes is a violation of these principles.”

Alam added that it is truly distressing to witness the destruction of crosses and sacred sites. I urge the higher authorities within our nation, as well as international organizations, to take effective measures to ensure the safety and security of Christians in Pakistan,” Alam wrote. At this time, many of our fellow Christians are left homeless, wandering the streets and fields with no basic necessities.”

Women and children are without food and shelter, Alam added. May God bless us, strengthen our faith, and empower us to continue our peaceful protest until we achieve a just and lasting resolution.”

Victor Azariah, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in Pakistan, also expressed horror at the burning of churches and homes.

We Christians are helpless in Pakistan…cant expect anything from the law-and-order authorities,” wrote Azariah. We simply request the international community to pray for the victims and help those people who have suffered due to this brutality.”

WCC condemns attacks against churches in Pakistan (WCC news release, 17 August 2023)

Christian Conference of Asia: CCA strongly condemns violence against Christian homes and churches in Jaranwala, Pakistan