Why We Need To Talk About India

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By Beth Ross | 9 August 2018

In India, persecution is increasing as Hindu extremists vow to eradicate Christianity by 2021. According the 2018 World Watch List, India is ranked the 11th hardest country in the world to follow Jesus.

In July 2018, 16 Christians were detained under the anti-conversion law in India. Two months prior, 15 more believers were arrested for leaving Hinduism to follow Jesus. 

The anti-conversion law makes it illegal to become a Christian in six states. So far 31 Christians have been charged since the laws came about in February this year. Anyone who ‘forcibly’ converts a minor, woman or Indians belonging to particular castes can be imprisoned for four years and fined $1500. New Christians need permission from the district collector before they convert to Christianity. 

This makes life extremely hard for believers to share the gospel. It is nearly impossible to renovate or build a church, and missionary visas haven’t been issued since the 1960’s.

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Image: A pastor whose church construction was stopped three times last month.

Earlier in the month, on 8 July, construction of a church was forcefully stopped by Hindu nationalist group, the RSS.

“They issued death threats; we could not conduct a worship service also that Sunday,” said the pastor.

“We purchased the land to construct the church and for the past 20 years we worshipped under a shed. With the help of some kind-hearted donors, we could collect enough funds to begin the construction work. I got permission from the village president…I secured permission for construction as well as to run the church from the officials, but it could not stop the Hindu extremists from attacking me.”

The next day the group returned and forced the pastor to sign a document that revoked the permission the church received from village officials. 

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Image: A church in central-west India destroyed by Hindu extremists.

Furthermore, those driving persecution of Christians believe that if you’re not Hindu, you’re not Indian. This causes many problems for the church including an increase in violence, more blasphemy laws, legal discrimination and new Christians are often rejected by their community.

Rajeshwar Singh, leader of the RSS, said “Our target is to make India a Hindu Nation by 2021. The Muslims and Christians don’t have any right to stay here. So, they would either be converted to Hinduism or forced to run away from here.”

With the government choosing to crack down on foreign aid, over 11,000 NGO’s have lost their license to receive international funding. This includes the country’s largest foreign funder, Compassion International, who was forced to close down in 2017.

We need to pray for the Indian church, now more than ever.

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Image: A woman reading the Bible during a church service in Nagpur.

Open Doors would like to invite you to respond to the rising storm of extremist persecution. We are asking the global body of Christ to unite with the Indian church and double our impact over the next two years.

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