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A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) in Madhya Pradesh has made derogatory statements against Christians and Muslims in October while at a religious gathering.

The statements have drawn criticism from church leaders and Christians in India.

At a Dussehra celebration on 15 October in Bhopal, BJP MLA Rameshwar Sharma urged Hindus to stay away from Christians and Muslims. He went on to caution that keeping company with Christians and Muslims “will destroy you”.

Sources: International Christian Concern, Matters India

Sharma further urged Hindus to stop using “good morning” to greet one another because of its association with European culture and Christianity. Instead, the BJP MLA told his followers to use “Jai Shree Ram” (hail Lord Ram) to greet people.

“His statement has deeply hurt the sentiments of the peace-loving community,” Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal said. “An MLA representing the people of a state should have a sense of what to speak and what not to speak in a public forum.”

“Our MLA should learn the basic culture of embracing everyone as its members of the universal family which has brought glory and honour to the country,” Archbishop Cornelio continued. “The Christian community has tirelessly worked for the development of all the communities before and after independence.”

Across India, similar derogatory statements are being used by radical Hindu nationalists to marginalise religious minorities. Recently, a Hindu priest in India’s Chhattisgarh state called for the beheading of Christians seeking to share the Gospel with their Hindu neighbours.

Anti-minority statements fuel the religious intolerance in India that justifies the increasing number of attacks on Christians and their places of worship. In October, a group of human rights organisations reported that over 300 incidents of persecution have been documented against India’s Christian community in just the first nine months of 2021.

Let us pray.

  • Pray for church planters and pastors taking the Gospel to unreached people groups. Pray for courage. Ask for God’s leading and protection.
  • Pray that God will soften the hearts of government leaders and bring them to saving faith in Christ.
  • Pray the church in India will be united and will remain strong, despite the increased opposition.