India is cracking down on minority religious groups, especially Christians. India is primarily Hindu and of its 29 states, 5 currently ban conversion. This past Lent, the Evangelical Fellowship of India and the Catholic Church issued similar rebukes to the current wave of violence.
Christians In India: Crackdown On Christians
“On 9 April 2017, which was also Palm Sunday, at least 5 incidents targeting Christians were reported from Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu,” the statement read. “Targeting Christians on special days of worship as Palm Sunday and Christmas is condemnable. We urge the respective State Governments and the Central Government to intervene in the situation and to control the non-state actors who seem to operate with impunity.” The incident of Uttar Pradesh saw a mob beat up Pastor Krishna Paul of Believers Church. In Rajasthan, church leader Saji Mathew was arrested with seven others after local people reported they were engaged in converting people.
All five states where the Palm Sunday disruptions took place occurred states are strongholds of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. And the persecutions seems to be on the rise. According to Open Doors, there are 15 violent attacks on Christians every week, dating back to at least 2016. And, in 2013, they reported that, “100 churches or worship gatherings were attacked, and acts of violence were committed against 4,000 Christians.”
A June 24, 2017 article identified four families who were, “beaten with sticks in India’s Utter Pradesh state and forced to take part in Hindu rituals” (Express). They also told the reporter that the water to their village was cut off because of their conversion activity and it would only be restored once they stopped holding Christian services.
And the officials are doing little to prevent or call these acts into question. Part of the concern for some in the government is the decline in religious allegiance to Hinduism. Even though the country is predominantly Hindu, there’s an active movement to increase it even more. “We are going to take percentage of Hindus to 100 in country,” said Praveen Togadia of the World Hindu Council. “Currently there are 82 per cent Hindus in India, and we don’t want this number to be halved. We won’t tolerate Hindus becoming a minority in the country” (FirstPost).
Pray for the Christians in India with the rise of violence that has increased by 20 percent, according to the All India Christian Council. On a July 16 Facebook post, the AICC condemns the killing of Pastor Sultan Masih in Punjab. The killing happened in front of the church, when two people shot him in the chest. The AICC Facebook feed is full of similar stories of various persecutions and punishments of Christians in India. Their faithful response is to, “remain calm and maintain peace and harmony among all sections of the society.”
Zach Kincaid is a part of the Sharefaith Editorial Team. He manages workoutyourfaith.com and has written on C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, and general Christian thought for more than 15 years. He is a husband, father, and collaborator on a variety of Christian outreach projects, including films and educational resources.