“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven….”
Christians families in India are being persecuted at an alarming rate. Hindu radicals view Christians as outsiders and are intent on cleansing the nation both of Christianity and Islam as they employ violence to this end. Those who have converted to Christianity in India are under constant pressure to return to Hinduism, with campaigns known as Ghar Wapsi (or “homecoming”) are used to try and get Christians to denounce their newfound faith. Some converts are physically assaulted and even killed for refusing to deny Christ while the government turns the other way.
Some of India’s more prominent Hindu radical groups and organizations include: Shiv Sena and Vishya Hindu Parishad (VHP), Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and the more widely known Bharatiya Jantra Party (BJP). In Muslim-majority areas, Christians experience persecution at the hands of the Muslim majority, with the poorer regions of the country (Jharkand, Bihar and Chhattisgarh), experiencing he Naxalite movement (Maoist rebels) persecuting those who believe in Christ.
Hindu militants torched churches and houses killing 91 Christians and wounding 18,000 others in 2007-2008. Over 60,000 Christians were left homeless.
WATCH: WORLD WATCH LIST 2018-INDIA:
Pastor Sing, who leads a congregation in India’s Madhya Pradesh State told International Christian Concern that 15 families have stopped going to church all together in the past few months after they faced persecution at the hands of these Hindu radicals.
“The reason for this drop in the attendance is the threats from Hindu radicals,” Pastor Singh told the nonprofit persecution watchdog. “The radicals say they will beat and kill my church members if they continue to attend the services.”
“Prior to May this year, around 200 people used to worship regularly in my church,” he continued. “But now only 50 to 60 people attend my church on Sunday. They are under tremendous pressure from Hindu radicals.”
A 37-year-old man from Kardubadi village near Jhabua, Shankar Damor, told ICC that his family also stopped going to church because they had been under serious threat of physical harm.
“In a meeting last May in the village of Kardubadi, the Christians were told that we should not attend any church and should not even pray in our homes,” Shankar said. “When we complained to the village diktat, the entire village stopped associating with us. No one attended our weddings and we were totally cut off from the people of the village.”
“In that same month, when my family was praying in our house, someone from the village called the police and I was taken to the police station on false charges of forced conversions,” Shankar explained. “The police beat me brutally and harassed me while in custody.”
Despite the persecution, Shankar said his family would continue to worship Christ, but in secret.
“We are on shaky ground as a family,” he said. “However, we might stop attending the church, but we will not leave Jesus.”
Another Christian from Kardubadi village, Babu Singh Damor, told the ICC that after he completed his Bachelor in Theology, he wanted to serve as a pastor, but he is still forced to practice his faith behind closed doors.
“We Christians are closely monitored as to where we are going and whom are we meeting,” Babu explained. “It’s quite a pathetic life we are living. However, we are not going to leave Jesus, no one is going snatch Jesus from our hearts.”
According to Open Doors USA’s 2018 World Watch List, India ranks as the 11th worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution. Although religious freedom is supposed to be a constitutional right in the country, several Indian states have implemented anti-conversion laws that make it illegal for anyone to use force or allurement to try and convert others to another religion. These laws are frequently abused by Hindu radicals to file false complaints against pastors as well as pressuring Christians not to share their faith.
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