WASHINGTON (BP)–The Baptist World Alliance has called on the Romanian government to investigate the lack of police protection when a group of nine Baptists in the village of Ruginoasa, Romania, were beaten by a crowd of citizens from a nearby village on Sunday, March 30.
Reports in one of the leading newspapers of the city of Montoiorul de lasi and on national television April 4 said about 700 people from the village surrounded a house used by Baptist believers for worship and another 150 persons came from the neighboring village. When nine Baptists came out from the worship service, the crowd started to beat them. Among that group, the report said, were women, one of whom was a 14-year-old.
Apart from the beating, the reports said local police did not act quickly enough to protect the Baptists.
“The Baptist World Alliance is saddened by the news from Romania that the Romanian police and government were unable to protect the rights of the people,” said Denton Lotz, BWA general secretary.
The incident is among several recently that may reflect a growing intolerance by religious majorities in several European countries against religious minorities, Lotz said.
“Religious prejudice has no place in modern Europe,” he said. “As Baptists, we have fought and died for religious freedom, and Romanian Baptists play a special role in this history of suffering prior to World War II.”
Lotz said Romanians had suffered under an unjust monarchy prior to World War II and faced severe repression under the communist regime. “Baptists were not spared from this suffering,” Lotz said, “and now is the time for justice and protection of the rights of all minorities, whatever their faith may be.”
Lotz asked the president of Romania to work for peace and justice and to send an investigatory team to bring harmony and peace to the affected villagers.
He also called on Baptists in the country to remain calm and to pray for those in authority.
Reid S. Trulson, BWA representative to the United Nations in Vienna and the American Baptist representative to Europe, has written the ambassador of Romania in Vienna asking him “to ensure that his government makes a complete and unbiased investigation of this crime and that the Romanian government’s commitment to the religious liberty of all its citizens be clearly stated and enforced.”