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Persecution Ministries Keeping Tabs on Upcoming Elections in India

Persecution Ministries Keeping Tabs on Upcoming Elections in India

Author: Chad Groening and Jody Brown
Publication: AgapePress
Date: March 31, 2004
URL: http://headlines.agapepress.org/archive/3/312004e.asp

A Christian organization dedicated to helping the persecuted Church says the upcoming national elections in India will be a referendum on how Christians are treated in that country in the future.

India is home to more than 40 million Christians. But according to the Voice of the Martyrs, the persecution against Christians has intensified over the past several years because of the efforts of radical Hindu groups that are tied to India's ruling party. VOM spokesman Todd Nettleton says next month's elections are very important.

"This national election is in some ways a national referendum on these parties that are tied to the radical Hindus," he says. "It's a national referendum on how Christians will be treated, among other issues."

According to Nettleton, many Hindu state-level governments have passed anti-conversion bills, thereby making evangelism much more difficult -- and a big win by the Hindus, he says, could make things worse. He claims the nation's ruling party has already clamped down on the rights of the millions of Christians in India.

"In terms of Christian persecution [in India], we have seen a dramatic increase over the last three or four years," Nettleton says.

Another Christian persecution ministry, International Christian Concern, has posted on its website a petition to President George W. Bush asking him to meet with the Indian ambassador to the U.S. to request that both the violence against Christians and the anti-conversion laws be stopped.

Missionaries, Too
Apparently the national converts to Christianity are not the only ones in India being singled out. In mid-March, a prominent Hindu leader accused Christian missionaries of working against India and called for their expulsion from the country.

According to AsiaNews/Ucan, Shankaracharya Saraswati said the "sole objective" of those individuals is to convert those who are illiterate and those from lower castes to Christianity. He also alleged that Christians have never worked to improve society but are "preoccupied" with dividing society along religious lines.

"[T]hey are working to destabilize the Hindu nation and to install a Christian nation," Saraswati said on March 18, calling for all the missionaries to be banished from the country.

Catholic leaders in India are dismissing the comments, saying that fundamentalist Hindu leaders often make such anti-Christian remarks. Saraswati, they say, has "only repeated what are routine allegations."

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