India: District authorities in Madhya Pradesh state ban all Christian gatherings

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - As the suppression of Christianity in India continues, earlier this month local authorities in Madhya Pradesh state imposed a ban on Christian religious gatherings in the Jhabua district, effectively shutting down over 50 house churches, International Christian Concern (ICC) reports.

On November 11, the Sub-Divisional Officer distributed to police stations in the Thandla and Megnagar blocks of Jhabua a circular announcing a total ban on Christian gatherings that do not have a permit for the local magistrate, ICC said.

As a result of the circular, believers from 50 house churches in the Jhabua district were barred from worshiping together on November 14, ICC reports.“I read the circular last Friday and decided not to have worship on Sunday,” a local pastor, whose name is withheld for security reasons, told ICC. “The last five months have been difficult. Our congregation has been reduced from 40 members to 15. Even these 15 are now scared.”

“I know as a pastor that I need to endure hardships and persecution for my faith. But I am worried about those who are showing interest and coming newly to worship with us,” the pastor added.

“Many Christians in the Jhabua District are concerned that the government is acting on the behest of radical Hindu nationalist groups,” ICC said in its report. Before the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party came to power, India had ranked 31 on the US Open Doors Watch List of top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted; it now ranks 10 on the list.