‘Remarkable’ resilience of Kandhamal Christians focus of US film

The 26-minute film shows Christian communities in India, Turkey and elsewhere which suffer religious freedom violations. The resilience of Kandhamal Christians is portrayed in a new documentary short film Under Caesar’s Sword, directed by Jason Cohen Productions in the United States.

The documentary which focuses on Christian persecution around the world was produced by the Under Caesar’s Sword initiative, a partnership of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture and Georgetown University’s Religious Freedom Project.

“What is remarkable about persecuted Christians is their resilience. They are not just victims. Understanding this is the key to being in solidarity with them,” said Daniel Philpott, the movie’s co-director and a political science professor at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana.

The 26-minute film shows Christian communities in India, Turkey and elsewhere which suffer religious freedom violations. It interviews Christian families, refugees and regional leaders as well as scholars. Under Caesar’s Sword focuses on their “creative strategies” to survive, build alliances and resist persecution, Notre Dame News reports.

The erasure of Christian culture in the Middle East is one focus, as is human rights activism among Christians in India. In the Kandhamal riots of late 2007 and early 2008, rioters in the eastern India state of Odisha killed 45 people and destroyed more than 80 churches. Christians were targeted for forced conversion to Hinduism.

In the film, the widow of a man who refused to convert recounted how he was tortured and killed in front of her and their two children. “They beat my husband badly as we pleaded with them to stop,” she said. “They dragged him for a kilometer with a cycle chain around his neck.”

Timothy Shah, associate director of Georgetown University’s Religious Freedom Project, reflected on many Christians’ response to persecution. “Christians have spontaneously responded to their own suffering by enlarging their concern and compassion and work for justice to include others as well,” Shah said. “It’s important because that’s what their faith calls them to, but it’s important too in that I think many Christians realize the only world in which they are going to be more secure is a world in which everyone is more secure.”

Jason Cohen is an Academy Award-nominated producer/director. He has produced and directed all formats of film and television on projects that cover a broad range of topics over the past 20 years. The Under Caesar’s Sword film is available at no cost on-line, as is a discussion guide for groups. It can be seen at the website ucs.nd.edu/film.

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