Saturday, September 21, 2019

Persecution Spreading: Now India

Tolerating religious persecution… or are we

Not five days ago, a direct report came from India how government agencies have Christian organizations under constant telephone, internet and financial surveillance. The information was carefully divulged during a Facetime communication with a missionary in India who is a natural-born citizen of the country.
The conversation was stilted as the Indian national chose words with care to avoid target terms such as Christian, ministry, missionary, gospel, Bible or scriptures. Despite laboring to avoid suspicious terminology that practically required speaking in code, the missionary was able to communicate the program’s needs to the American supporter.

Censorship and persecution has been growing under India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration

Censorship and persecution has been growing under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration and it became painfully obvious during the call. Christian ministries and outreaches have come under pressure by the Hindu majority that view other religions and ideologies as a threat to the ancient caste system ingrained in Indian society.

Under Modi’s prejudicial approach to Christianity, attacks on pastors and supplicants have risen dramatically since his election to national office in 2014. Accompanying the scrutiny of email, cell phone communications and written correspondence, the government has restricted funds coming from the United States and other western nations transmitted through Western Union outlets. No longer are recipients allowed to collect cash from the vendors. Only checks may be issued which compels the recipient to rely on state-owned banks (there are no private banking institutions) to cash the instrument, the government extracting a hefty tax before paying out the remainder.

As a result of the crackdown, Compassion International, a Christian nonprofit that “adopts” children, helping the guardians by supplying food, clothing, healthcare and educational materials to desperately poor families, has been essentially banned. In the case of the missionary on the other end of the Facetime transmission, her ministry serves children that live in the middens and trash dumps outside villages and metro areas with meals and clothes after first bathing and delousing their malnourished bodies.

Not only are Christians being targeted by the Modi government, but thousands of charitable NGOs have been tagged as “undesirable” with the banks tying up millions of dollars, including over $600,000 of Compassion International funds in 2017. According to Nonprofit Quarterly, “The government accused CI of attempting to convert people to Christianity, which is deemed detrimental to the national interest.” This last comment in the NPQ story relates to the growing anti-conversion movement across India.

Based on this legislation, other Indian states have pursued similar laws only to be followed by the possible passing of a national “Anti-Conversion Bill” that criminalizes any activity or speech that may incline individuals to receive the Gospel. The bill is in direct violation of the Indian constitution that acknowledges free speech and religious affiliation but reflects a growing movement to quash all humane assistance to suffering Indians by Christian churches and organizations.

Intimidation against Christians by Hindu extremists

Another native Indian ministry put it this way, “Despite the absolute free-speech guaranteed by the Constitution of India, the Christians and the Church are RESTRAINED of that freedom by the “nationalist radical groups in the ruling party.”... Already these elements stop Christians and the Church from practicing their faith and in the open or even inside a Church. Those who do not comply are assaulted, persecuted, even killed; and their homes, businesses and churches are destroyed or vandalized in many parts of India.”

These moves by state and national parliaments have encouraged intimidation against Christians by Hindu extremists. In some regions, communities have organized motorcycle riders to circle churches during worship and fellowship meetings to deter violent attacks that have become more frequent (per witness by the missionary previously mentioned). Crimes committed against Christians have increased and reports are often dismissed by authorities. One corroborated report was of a gang of four adult Hindu men kidnapping a pastor’s four-year-old daughter from her nursery school and raping her.

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