A coalition of Christian and interfaith leaders in Texas are calling on members of U.S. Congress to condemn "anti-Christian hate and bigotry" from a local nonprofit they say is raising funds to demolish churches in India.
The Federation of Indian American Christian Organization in North America (FIACONA) held a news conference Tuesday, warning that the Texas-based Global Hindu Heritage Foundation (GHHF) is raising money in the United States to level churches and forcibly convert Christians and Muslims in India to Hinduism.
A Dec. 13 letter obtained by The Christian Post and addressed to U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, the Internal Revenue Service and others alleges GHHF is "one of many Hindu supremacist groups" using the U.S. as an "operating base" to promote violence against Christians in India.
Founded in 2006, GHHF advocates an ideology known as Hindutva, or extremist Hindu supremacism, which holds that India belongs solely to Hindus to the exclusion of an estimated 220 million Indian Christians and Muslims, according to the statement.
The letter — which was also co-signed by Church of The Way in Frisco and Concerned Indian American Christians in DFW — accuses GHHF and similar groups of "funding and actively promoting" attacks on churches in India, including vandalizing prayer spaces, harassing Sunday worshippers, molesting women and breaking into church buildings.
In addition to the letter, a copy of an invitation to a Nov. 27 gala dinner hosted by GHHF was also shared at the news conference.
The invitation — which includes the GHHF logo and contact info for its chairman, Dr. Prakasarao Velagapudi — states that part of the event's agenda included "Ghar Vapsi," which is the forced religious conversion of Indian Christians and Muslims to Hinduism and Sikhism.
"We find it extremely disturbing and dangerous that GHHF would use U.S. soil and Texas land to explicitly advertise their goal to cause such great harm to Indian Christians, who already face enormous persecution daily," the letter stated.
GHHF did not respond to a request for comment from CP.
In front of a large Christmas tree outside Frisco City Hall, several pastors and other Christian leaders joined members of the local Indian Christian community to call for lawmakers to take a closer look at the activities of GHHF.
One of those who spoke at the press conference was Pastor Bryan Nerren of the International House of Prayer Ministries in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Nerren was detained in India for seven months in 2019 after an airport customs dispute.
Nerren's ordeal ended in May 2020 when India dropped all charges against him and returned his passport.
"At that time, all of us here would've thought the battle and the fight and the persecution for the Christians were in India on the other side of the world," Nerren said at Tuesday's news conference. "But here I am, three years later, in Frisco, Texas, to say out loud that fight there has made its way to our community."
Bishop Justin Meyer of the Anglican Diocese of the Emmaus Way warned that the fundraising issue is not just about Indian Christians but about "our national security and the ability for law enforcement to do their jobs effectively."
"Historically, India has been a place of peace and plurality, but today many groups have become radicalized and have exported that hatred here to the United States," he said. "If we don't open our eyes now to what is happening in our own backyards, the consequences will be dire."
Ray Willkins, the pastor of Lebanon Baptist Church, said the fight for religious liberty for people of other faiths should also involve Christians here at home.
"We believe that if we don't have religious liberty for all, then we don't have religious liberty for any, because once we start denying religious liberty for one group, then it's a slope where all groups begin to have their rights and freedoms ... taken away," said Wilkins.
Pieter Friedrich, freelance journalist and activist specializing in the issue of Hindu nationalism, delivered a dire warning for Christians in India, whom he said to face "impending genocide" at the hands of the "Hindu supremacist" movement.
Calling for GHHF to be "investigated, exposed and stopped," Friedrich said the nonprofit "has a long track record of promoting a similarly toxic, hateful and supremacist agenda."
"It has described Christian pastors as leeches and has patined the entire Muslim community as engaging in persistent terror," he said. "GHHF has further declared, for instance, that if Christians are coming to convert our Hindus, we should drive them away, and we should not even allow them to talk about their religion."
Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney declined to comment on GHHF, saying only that "international relations and concerns being raised about GHHF are beyond the City of Frisco's level of governance."
Hindus comprise more than 80% of India's population, while about 2% are Christians and about 15% are Muslims.
Last year, Open Doors USA ranked India as the 10th most dangerous nation for Christian persecution. Christian persecution watchdog Voice of the Martyrs labels India a "hostile" country because of efforts by extremist Hindu organizations to forcibly "unite" India under Hinduism.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom warns that religious freedom conditions in India have taken a "drastic turn downward" in recent years as "national and various state governments" have tolerated "widespread harassment and violence against religious minorities."
Ian M. Giatti is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.