by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) -
A Hindu nationalist leader in India’s Madhya Pradesh state has demanded that local authorities shut down all churches in the state’s tribal areas, falsely claiming that Christians are carrying out mass conversions on “gullible indigenous peoples,” International Christian Concern reports. Head of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Azad Prem Singh threatened violent action if his January 11 demand is not met within 30 days.
Accompanied by a group of supporters, Singh presented the District Collector in the city of Jhabua with a formal memorandum in which he states: “In the past 70 years Christian missionaries have converted gullible indigenous people to Christianity and built churches specifically on protected tribal land.”
“All the illegally built churches should be shut down immediately and action should be taken against all priests and pastors involved in the process,” the memorandum continued. Singh went on to threaten violence if his demand is not complied with.
According to ICC, Hindu nationalists falsely accuse Christian and Muslim Indians of “converting poor Hindus and tribal peoples to Christianity and Islam in mass by fraudulent means” in order to pass laws restricting freedom of religion.
However, ICC notes: “India’s own population data does not support this conspiracy. In 1951, the first census after independence, Christians made up 2.3% of India’s population. According to the 2011 census, the most recent census data available, Christians still make up 2.3% of the population.”