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Missionary Attacked and Ordered to Leave India


The Associated Press, Trivandrum, Jan. 20, 2003

An American missionary wounded in an attack by Hindu nationalists was ordered to leave India within a week for preaching illegally. Joseph William Cooper [a bishop in the New Jerusalem Universal Church] had preached several times even though it wasn't allowed by his visitor's visa, said Vinod Kumar, the police superintendent in Trivandrum, capital of the southern state of Kerala. Cooper, 67, of New Castle, Pennsylvania, was asked to leave India shortly after being released from a hospital Monday, Kumar said. He underwent surgery for a deep cut on his right hand. Cooper wasn't immediately available for comment.

Police believe Hindu nationalists attacked Cooper and seven others last week after the missionaries left a church gathering on the outskirts of Trivandrum, 1,300 miles south of New Delhi. Kumar said four members of a hard-line Hindu group, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, are accused of the attack. The group, allied with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, says Christian missionaries spread Western influence in India. R. Santhosh, a local leader of the group, said his organization was not involved in the attack, but he accused Cooper and other Christians of insulting Hindus. Hindu hard-liners have attacked Christians more often since B.J.P. came to power in 1999. They accuse the missionaries of converting poor Hindus by offering them money, a charge Christian groups deny.