The BJP-led government is preparing to introduce a nationwide anti-conversion bill in the next session of parliament.
Many religious minorities in India, including Christians, fear the enactment of such a law because of the widespread abuse of similar state-level anti-conversion laws.
The government has already started drafting a bill that will prevent any kind of religious conversion. This comes shortly after the BJP-led government passed a controversial bill that stripped Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, of its statehood and special autonomous status.
Radical Hindu nationalists often use the spectre of mass religious conversions to pass laws and regulations that limit religious freedom. Indian Christians are falsely accused of conspiracies where poor Hindus are fraudulently converted to Christianity.
However, according to India’s own population data, the conspiracy of mass conversions to Christianity does not hold up. In 1951, the first census after independence, Christians made up only 2.3% of India’s overall population. According to the 2011 census, the most recent census data available, Christians still only make up 2.3% of the population.
In states where anti-conversion laws are currently enacted, including Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Uttrakhand, they are widely abused. Radical nationalists falsely accuse Christian leaders and evangelists of forcefully converting individuals to Christianity to justify harassment and assault. Local police often overlook this harassment due to the false accusation of forced conversions.
To date, no individual has been convicted of forced conversions in India. This is in spite of the fact that some of the state-level anti-conversion laws have been on the books since 1967.
Sources: International Christian Concern, Zee News
- Ask the Lord to embolden Indian believers so that they may not be fearful of the government’s opposition but may be determined to love and follow Him.
- Pray these believers will rest in the knowledge that the Lord is with them and that He oversees all things including the country’s leaders.
- Pray this current threat will serve to grow the church in faithfulness and in number.
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Hindu militants attacked a Christian family recently as they prayed in their own home.
On 3 May, Pastor ‘Falgun’, his wife and his sister and brother-in-law were praying for a sick neighbour when about 10 members of a Hindu extremist group rushed into the home and attacked the pastor with sticks.
When the pastor’s sister-in-law intervened, one of the militants grabbed her by the hair and smashed her head into the wall. The woman’s husband tried to protect her, but they then beat him as well.
After the militants finally left, more than two hours later, all four of the Christians were admitted to the hospital. The hospital discharged them the next day under pressure from the extremists, but the pastor’s sister-in-law was later diagnosed with a blood clot in her head. The four were then taken to another hospital.
Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA
- Ask the Lord for a complete recovery for these believers. May the violence leave no lasting effects.
- Pray God will minister to them emotionally and spiritually, to help them overcome this difficult trial.
- Commit to the Lord the perpetrators; by His leading may they be moved to conviction and repentance.
On 21 January, a Christian evangelist was hospitalised with a brain haemorrhage following a police interrogation in India.
The evangelist, a husband and father, was distributing Gospel tracts near a Hindu temple when locals accused him of attempting to convert people to Christianity.
The evangelist was arrested and interrogated, and he subsequently suffered a brain haemorrhage on his way home from the police station.
His wife says there has been no change in his condition and asks for prayer for his healing.
Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA
- Ask the Lord to have mercy on this man and his family and bring complete healing and restoration.
- Thank the Lord for the faithfulness of this evangelist in bringing the word of God to locals. Pray the tracts he has passed out and the conversations he has had, may be used by the Lord to bear fruit.
- Pray this incident may in no way deter other evangelists to preach the Gospel; pray the Lord will strengthen and encourage them by allowing them to see the Holy Spirit at work.
India, a mostly Hindu nation, is witnessing the growth of the Christian church in large numbers even though persecution is increasing for religious minorities at the same time.
The increase in persecution is claimed by many to be the result of the rise of a Hindu political party now controlling India’s Central Government. Despite this, there are an estimated 25-60 million Christians in India (and an estimated 1 billion Hindus).
Some congregations have thousands of Christians in attendance, such as Calvary Temple located in Hyderabad that holds up to 35,000 people. It offers five services on Sundays, with worshippers filling up each one.
Source: International Christian Concern
- Praise God for the growth of His church in India; pray the Gospel will continue to be preached clearly and faithfully.
- Pray for God’s protection over His church; ask the Lord to encourage those who face opposition to stand firm.
- Pray for the conversion of many more Indians to believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
An Indian pastor and his pregnant wife were assaulted and their church set on fire on Sunday 17 April after they refused to praise a Hindu god.
Pastor Dinbanhu Sameli, 30, and his wife, Meena, 26, seven months pregnant, lead a church in the troubled Bastar district of the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh.
Two young men approached the pastor outside his home next to his church at around 7pm, initially asking for prayer, claiming they were from a nearby Methodist church. But they later brought out a sword which they held to the pastor’s neck, and demanded the couple shout the phrase, “Jai Shri Ram” (Victory to the god Ram).
“Where is your Jesus?” the two men demanded; Sameli replied “We believe that He is with us.” When asked, “Why don’t you believe in Ram?” the husband and wife remained silent.
When the couple refused to praise Ram and also refused to stamp on a Bible, the two men took a litre of petrol and set fire to the church, including musical equipment.
Sameli said he “felt fear in his heart” with the sword on his shoulder, but “prayed that God would save him.”
As the church burned, the couple fled and filed a report with the police.
The incident took place in the remote village of Karanji, in the Tokapal area of the sprawling Bastar district, which has seen several recent incidents of anti-Christian violence at the hands of Hindu fundamentalists.
Source: World Watch Monitor
- Thank the Lord that the couple are safe and, though they were understandably frightened, they remained faithful.
- Pray the police will bring the perpetrators to justice and do all they can to protect minorities in the future. Pray for the perpetrators; may they remember the witness of this couple and be moved by it.
- May the church continue to meet together and do so joyfully and without fear. May this incident encourage others to be courageous for the Gospel.
INDIA: Pastor and Family Hospitalised After Assault
INDIA: Persecution of Christians Continues
INDIA: Christian Publicly Humiliated