- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 17, 2006

CALCUTTA — Satan-worshipping groups in the Christian-majority Indian state of Mizoram are waging an anti-Christian campaign by burning Bibles, vandalizing churches and defiling cemeteries.

One such group entered a church after midnight on July 24 and burned Bibles, urinated on the pulpit and tore up pictures of the Virgin Mary and Jesus.

“It appears they sacrificed an animal on the pulpit and splattered its blood on the altar and chair of the worship leader,” said the Rev. B. Sangthanga, the head pastor of the church in the Kolasib district of the northeastern Indian state.

“Last year, some young men of our village confessed to worshipping Satan. Our investigation has found that the same group is behind this attack on the church.”

Mr. Sangthanga said the acts of vandalism “carry signatures of the Mizo Satan followers. … Now their attack on our church proves that the number of Satanists is growing across the state with village youths joining them.”

The villagers did not report the attack to the police, choosing instead to pray for “God’s intervention to help the misguided youths return to the right path.”

But other recent incidents have led to the arrests of young Satan worshippers on charges of vandalism at religious places.

Most were briefly detained and released with a scolding. The youths — most in their late teens or early 20s — tend to be high-school dropouts and often are drug users, a police investigation found.

One study found there were as many as 95 Satan-worshipping groups in Mizoram. More than 50 cases have been reported in which the groups vandalized churches, burned Bibles or defiled cemeteries.

Some of them conduct midnight gatherings at isolated cemeteries, where they are reported to dance naked, slash their wrists in ritual blood offerings and chant invocations to Satan. They sometimes write graffiti in their blood, leaving messages such as “dog si nataS” — the reverse of “Satan is god.”

Mizoram church leaders blame high unemployment and “bad Western influences” for the growth of the groups.

“When, three years ago, a girl-only [satanic group] was caught by village elders while performing some bizarre rituals, the girls, who were all high-school dropouts, admitted that [they had been] influenced by the Hollywood movie ‘The Craft,’” said a church leader in the Aizawl district.

“Lots of graduates and postgraduates are jobless in this state, and so, many younger students are getting disenchanted with their studies. Many such young [Christian] people are turning away from the church, taking drugs and sometimes following this Satan’s path out of despair.”

Muana, a 25-year-old former Satan worshipper who uses only one name, said young people were joining the groups out of frustration over the tens of thousands of highly educated people who are jobless.

“Most members of our [group] were intravenous drug users. We wanted to rebel against the society, and so we targeted the Church,” said Muana, who is at a drug detoxification center in the neighboring state of Manipur.

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