For many years, the Hindu Nationalist organisation, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has been an influential factor in Indian politics, particularly within the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). One of the goals of the RSS is to change India from a secular democracy to a nation governed by Hindu polity. This is being achieved by the passing of anti-conversion laws to prevent people from converting from Hinduism.
At least nine states have now passed anti-conversion legislation, including, the Uttar Pradesh state in November. Under this legislation, police have arrested four people – one of them, a Korean national. The four had been distributing aid to people affected by the COVID-19 lockdown and, according to the aid organiser, two of those arrested were not even Christians. No mention was made to the aid recipients of their need to change religion, and no money was given or promised to coerce them. At last report, attempts were being made to secure bail for the detained humanitarian workers.
On 9 January, one of the states that already had anti-conversion legislation, passed newer and tighter restrictions. According to the newly implemented rules of Madhya Pradesh state, anyone wanting to change their faith must obtain official permission 60 days in advance or they could face up to ten years in prison and a fine of $890.
These laws intend to prevent conversion by bribery or coercion but, in practice, they are being used by militants to intimidate and harm religious minorities. For Hindus however, the laws do not seem to apply. There are also numerous reports of coercion being used to convert people to Hinduism in a process called Ghar wapsi which translated means, ‘a homecoming’.
According to a year-end report from Release International, it is expected that Christian persecution in India will increase during 2021 due to the growing influence of Hindu nationalism.
Sources: Release International, Mission Network News, World Watch Monitor
- Pray for churches and Christian organisations throughout India that are encountering increasing pressures by governing officials and community members.
- May the Lord give these believers and their leaders wisdom and direction as they seek to share the Gospel, and the courage to follow His leading in the midst of opposition.
- Pray that those recently arrested will be released and that all charges against them will be dropped.