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ANTI-CHRISTIAN ATTACKS CONTINUE TO RISE IN INDIA

On 28 November, 25 members of the Bajrang Dal, a Hindu nationalist organisation, broke into the ‘Life to the Nation’s Ministries’ church building in Delhi during a prayer meeting and attacked the congregants. The police were called, and the attackers were held and questioned, but no charges were filed. Members of the Bajrang Dal and other Hindu nationalist groups have been launching attacks on Christians and church buildings at an increasing rate as they attempt to reach their goal of an India without any Muslims or Christians. According to a report published in October by a human rights group in India, there were 305 documented attacks on Christians and church buildings in the first nine months of 2021. Of those 305 attacks, 173 of them were recorded in India’s northern states: 66 in Uttar Pradesh, 30 in Jharkhand, 30 in Madhya Pradesh, and 47 in Chhattisgarh. Hindu nationalist groups have assaulted and harassed church members and leaders, accusing them of illegally converting Hindus to Christianity. Anti-Christian attacks have increased due to several factors, one being the introduction of anti-conversion laws in several states. Mohan Bhagwat, the head of a far-right Hindu nationalist group and ideological leader of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, gave a speech just two weeks after Mr Modi invited Pope Francis to visit India in October, in which he called for Hindus to be alert and aware of religious conversions. He also warned of upcoming “demographic changes” in India’s northeast, where many Christians reside. His speech was followed by several reports of acts of violence against Christians in various parts of the country in which mobs were calling for the beheading of people who were carrying out alleged forced conversions.

FROM A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE

INDIA
POPULATION: ±1.38 BILLION CHRISTIAN: 2.03%
EVANGELICAL:  Uknown
UNREACHED GROUPS: 2,139 (95.6% of pop.)

 A report released by the Pew Research Centre earlier this year found that on average 1 in 10 Christians in India reported being discriminated against because of their faith. Broken down by region, the percentages varied, 19% of Christians in the East reported facing discrimination, 12% in the Northeast, and 6% in the South. Following the release of the report, a group of 100 Christian leaders in India gathered to discuss the implications of the report and to give recommendations for the Church going forward. They mentioned that one of the hurdles caused by large-scale reports like the one done by Pew is the tendency for people to get a broad view of the problem of persecution, not grasping the intricacies of each region’s religious climate. The divisions among people in India are based on far more than just religion, making a solution to the divisiveness believers face hard to find.  The Church leaders recommended that the Indian Church focus on how to gain greater unity both within the Church and wider society. According to former executive director of the Evangelical Fellowship of India Commission on Relief, C.B. Samuel, failing to achieve greater unity both as a Church and wider society will “destroy the ability for the Church to be a witness within India. Therefore, a conscious modelling of church which breaks the barriers is very important.” The larger body of Christ can pray for Indian believers to remain Kingdom-minded, striving for unity, as Indian society becomes more and more divided. The Bible speaks extensively of the persecution that will come to those who follow Jesus. In 2 Timothy 3, we are told that all who desire to live a Godly life will be persecuted, but the Church is reminded in 1 Peter of the eternal reward that will come from enduring suffering for Christs’ sake.

Please pray with us for the following:

  • For the Indian government to consider the well-being of all citizens when drafting legislation
  • For the Indian Church to persevere in their efforts to foster unity, both in their churches and communities
  • For Indian believers to remain steadfast in the face of increasing persecution

 

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Image: REUTERS/Fouchet Julien

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