India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party (the BJP) is continuing to propagate a myth of forced conversions and pursuing a right wing Hindu nationalist agenda. They’re bringing in a new draconian legislation that will require Hindu converts to give a 60-day advance notice to district authorities of their intent to convert to another religion and then report the details of their conversion to government officials. This new law aims to make it illegal to convert away from Hinduism. It deems the conversion illegal if, in their eyes, it was ‘forced’ or the person was fraudulently persuaded to convert. If the authorities believe that the person was lured away from their Hindu religion, given any ‘misrepresentations’ to encourage them to convert then it’s not a legal conversion and people can face jail time if they are found guilty of encouraging or participating in ‘illegal’ conversions. Even if someone wishes to convert their religion when they get married, they will still need to apply for consent from their local authority. The religious figure undertaking the conversion will also needs to apply for consent to do so. It’s worth noting, however, that the ‘Anti-Conversion’ law does not apply to non Hindus.
We’re now also beginning to learn the shocking extent to which the Modi government is prepared to go to achieve achieve Hindu dominance and hold onto power. For some time now, Modi’s government have been stoking the Hindu majority by suggesting India’s Christians are luring and even forcibly converting Hindus over to Christianity. In fact, India’s home ministry announced only yesterday (Monday) that they had frozen Mother Teresa charity’s accounts. The Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of West Bengal and an opposition leader commented of his dismay when he heard the news.. “Shocked to hear that (at) Christmas, Union Ministry FROZE ALL BANK ACCOUNTS of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in India!… Their 22,000 patients & employees have been left without food & medicines. While the law is paramount, humanitarian efforts must not be compromised”
Anti-conversion laws are already in force in five of India’s states but the new bill will introduce them nationally and India’s Christian minority (representing just 2% of India’s population) are being heavily targeted by right wing Hindu nationalists. In fact, attacks on Christian minorities has spiked under the Modi government and have particularly surged over the Christmas period, with Jesus statues being smashed, churches being vandalized and Santa Claus effigies being burned outside missionary-led schools. According to a recent Guardian report, they’re burning bibles and violently attacking pastors, while Christian schools have been targeted by right wing groups. Apparently, Christmas celebrations are seen as a lure, used to draw Hindu’s toward Christianity.
In one recent report, two Hindu nationalists disrupted Christmas night celebrations at a Presbyterian church in Assam demanding all Hindus leave the building… “Let only Christian celebrate Christmas… We are against Hindu boys and girls participating in Christmas function … it hurts our sentiments. They dress up in church and everyone sings Merry Christmas… How will our religion survive?”
At another Christmas event in in Uttar Pradesh a Hindu vigilante group who stood outside the Matridham Ashram during the celebration shouted “death to missionaries”. Father Anand, a priest at the ashram, reports that “Every Sunday is a day of terror and trauma for Christians, especially those belonging to those small churches.”
There have also been numerous reports suggesting that the Indian police have been protecting the attackers and even personally involved in the persecution of Christians.
According to recent reports, crimes against Christians in India increased by 60% from 2016 to 2019 and there have been 300 documented attacks on Christians in just the first nine months of 2021 alone.
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