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Christian Converts in India Face Heavy Pressure to Reconvert to Hinduism

A Christian charity network has revealed that Christian converts in India continue to face rising persecution and heavy pressure to reconvert back to Hinduism.

Hinduism
People take part in a religious conversion ceremony from Christianity to Hinduism at Hasayan town in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on Aug. 29, 2014. |

Since the country's right-wing Hindu group gained power three years ago, Christian Indians have been facing intensified persecution and violence, according to Release International.

Paul Robinson, chief executive of the charity network, said many Christians received threats from Hindu militants while others who work for the church have been killed because of their faith.

He said some Christian converts are feeling the pressure to return to Hinduism or face terrible consequences.

"Extremists have tried to force Christians to renounce their faith and convert to Hinduism," Robinson said. "And they have bombed, torched, vandalized and demolished churches."

Earlier in May, International Christian Concern reported that an estimated 15 Christian families were forced to return to Hinduism after they were warned that refusal would mean tough sanctions and penalties.

Shivaram Tekam, one of the Christian converts who were forced to reconvert, recounted how he had to give up some of his possessions as part of the reconversion ceremony.

He said he gave up two chickens and a bottle of wine and also paid a fine of 551 rupees to the village god. The priests and some village elders then offered the chickens to their god in sacrifice.

After the ceremony, he went to a pastor and admitted what he did.

"They can stop me from going to church but they cannot take Jesus away from my heart," said Tekam. "I will find ways and secretly come to church."

The ruling Hindu party has been pushing to make religious conversions illegal.

J.B. Dubit of the Bharatiya Janata Party filed the resolution to ban religious conversions all over the state, reported Eurasia Review.

"The resolution asks the government to formulate a law that will make all comversions done through allurement or force illegal and punishable," said Dubit.

He added that while the party is "not against religious conversion per se," they do not believe that it should be done forcibly or by taking advantage of someone's financial situation.

Release International spokesperson Andrew Boyd told Premier that the resolution stemmed from the ruling party's idea that all Indians must adhere to Hinduism.

However, he added that no one is forcing the Indians to accept Christianity.

"These people are converting to Christianity and quite large numbers of them are converting because they're finding acceptance and dignity and worth and that is provoking quite a backlash," said Boyd.

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