Persecution in India Rises with Increased Hindu-Christian Conversions

Persecution of Christians in India is said to be increasing with a number of recent reports of serious harassment against believers by anti-Christian extremists.

Correspondents of mission group Gospel for Asia reported that within a recent 24-hour period, they received reports of three separate incidents of extremists accusing Christians of forcibly converting people to Christianity. They claim Christians use "allurement" to convince people to receive Jesus as their Savior, reported GFA on Wednesday.

The mission group noted that the accusation come mainly after someone coverts to Christianity when they are healed through the prayers of a missionary.

"The extremists are very concerned about the growing number of people leaving the Hindu religion, which is viewed by many as the official religion of India," explained GFA in its report. "Many people say that 'to be Indian is to be Hindu.'

"Leaders in the anti-Christian movement contend they are simply maintaining a cohesive Indian society by ensuring that Hinduism remains the country's chief religion," observed the mission group working in Asia.

Dalits, formerly known as "untouchables," make up most of the new Christian population in India. There are about 25 million Christians in India with 60 percent being from the Dalit caste, the lowest class in India's social system. Dalits have long been oppressed by India's caste system and most Dalits are still forced to do manual labor jobs, such as cleaning up human waste. For many Dalits, conversion to Christianity adds to their ostracism in the predominantly Hindu society.

A recent anti-Christian incident occurred in Punjab, in northwest India where 15 GFA Bible students were attacked by about 40 militants on March 26. The Christian students had refused to stop sharing the Gospel in their village despite extremists threatening them to stop.

The Voice of the Martyrs, a persecution watch group, also reported many cases of Hindu militants beating pastors and church members, accusing them of engaging in conversion activities and forcing them to deny their faith from its sources in India.

Most recently, VOM received a report from the Evangelical Fellowship of India informing the group that two mission workers had sustained head injuries after Hindu militants armed with bamboo and sugarcane sticks beat them Sunday in Mahyha Pradesh, India.

"I actually taped [above my desk] a little map of India that shows the different states…And as we get reports every week coming in, I look at the map and see," said VOM Spokesman Todd Nettleton to OneNewsNow. "It used to be we could identify two or three states and say those states … that's where the persecution is happening.

"But now," observed Nettleton, "with so many reports coming in, they are coming from all over India. Every part of India is affected by persecution."

GFA president, Yohannan, concluded, "We cannot be silent nor ignore what is happening to our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ in India. We must pray and fast for God to intervene and bring about a heart change and give boldness to His people to love and proclaim the Good News in the midst of persecution."