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Church in India - Photo: Unsplash / Paul Silvan

As militant Hinduism takes control of local, state and federal governments in India, concerns about religious freedom have been increasing. Though India is officially secular and the world's most populous democracy, Hindu nationalism remains strong. New legislation and polices have highlighted the challenges.

At least ten states across the country have passed regulations restricting religious conversions. Under a proposed law in Uttar Pradesh, which was introduced on November 22nd, anyone wishing to convert must submit an affidavit to a judge one month before conversion. Anyone found to have exerted pressure to cause a conversion could face seven years in prison. If the conversion is found to be for the purpose of marriage, a similar sentence could be imposed, or the marriage may be annulled. Accusations of forcible conversions have been frequently used against Christians in other states, without any proof of these claims, in attempts to oppress these believers and stop the spread of the Gospel.

A new citizenship law passed by the Indian parliament on December 12th places specific religious restrictions on citizenship. According to a report from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, the result of the law has left 1.9 million people in the state of Assam without citizenship because they are Muslim. The legislation has further stated that those coming from neighbouring countries such as Pakistan or Bangladesh are welcome to become citizens of India if they are Hindu, Sikh or Christian, which excludes anyone who is Muslim.

This legislation has led to mass protests across India, as people voice their disapproval with this government action. Some are protesting the religious exclusions, while others are against increased immigration. International concerns have also been raised, including calls for sanctions, unless India respects the rights of all people equally.

For Christians in India, this could appear to be positive on a surface level, since Christianity is a qualifying religion. However, Todd Nettleton from VOM USA suggests the inclusion of religious affiliation other than Hinduism may be a public relations effort to demonstrate that this is not a Hindu nationalist law, since it allows others. A question also remains whether modifications in the future may expand the religious restrictions. Christians around the world are called upon to pray and express their concerns, since freedom of religion is a fundamental tenant of a democratic society. Therefore, determining citizenship based on religion degrades the very concept of 'freedom of religion and thought.' To read our country report or review previously posted situations of persecution, go to this page.

Please prayerfully remember India's Christian citizens as they face ongoing pressure from Hindu nationalists who are attempting to restrict their freedoms or make false accusations against them. Pray that they will not be paralyzed by fear but will continue sharing the message of Jesus' love and thus fulfill the Great Commission. May all the various people groups of India, including its governmental leaders, endeavour to resolve their differences in a respectful manner, so that unity and peace throughout the country will prevail.

Current Ministry Projects

VOMC VOMC assists persecuted Christians with legal support and rehabilitation assistance, and cares for children of martyrs by providing them with a safe place to be nurtured physical and spiritually. VOMC also partners to equip Christians in India with Biblical training and works to strengthen and support marginalized and persecuted Christian women. Additionally, VOMC helps to provide medical assistance to believers who have faced injuries after being attacked.”

Project Funds: Families of Martyrs, Equipping the Saints, Legal Defense, Relief and Development, Women’s Ministry, Medical Fund

Country Information

Designation
Persecuted

Population
1,339,330,514 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Indo-Aryan (72), Dravidian (25), Mongoloid and other (3)

Religion (%)
Hinduism (79.8), Muslim (14.2), Christianity (2.3), Sikh (1.7), other (2)

Leader
President Ram Nath Kovind (2017)

Government type
Federal parliamentary republic

Legal system
Based on English common law; separate personal law codes apply to Christians, Hindus and Muslims.

Source: CIA World Factbook

Pray for India

Despite the intimidation and violence that have taken place in many of India's states, may Christians wisely yet unashamedly preach the Gospel. Pray that indigenous Christians and foreign missionaries will minister in ways that do not hint at fraudulent conversions, unmasking the intentions behind the anti-conversion legislation. Intercede for India's leaders, that they may reign with justice and righteousness.

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India News

  • Anti-Conversion Laws Expand to Haryana State
    A group of people riding motorbikes, all wearing orange scarves, some carrying orange flags
    Hindu nationalists in Haryana.
    Photo: Morning Star News

    Despite strong opposition, and even walkouts organized by opposing politicians, the Haryana Assembly in northern India passed the "Haryana Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill" on March 22nd. The bill's stated purpose is to instil

    ...
  • Pastor Killed by Masked Men
    Man with his head in his hands
    Pray that believers will sense the comforting presence of God’s Holy Spirit who grieves with them in their loss.

    Pastor Yallam Shankar was at home in Angampalli, Chhattisgarh, on March 17th when five masked men suddenly burst in. After dragging the pastor from his home, the attackers stabbed him to

    ...
  • Pastor Beaten Over Conversion Allegations
    Large building (Delhi Police Station)
    Delhi Police Station
    Photo: Wikipedia / Ji-Elle (cc)

    On the morning of February 25th, Pastor Kelom Kalyan Tet was returning from visiting a friend when he was accosted on a street in South Delhi by a mob. Accusing the pastor of illegal conversion activities, they began to beat him. The assailants

    ...