Native Missionaries Fear More Violence in India Amid Controversial Laws

Friday, August 18, 2006

By BosNewsLife News Center

NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) -- Native Christian missionaries in India say recently passed anti-conversion laws in several states have added to an atmosphere of hatred against them and will makes it more difficult to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, BosNewsLife learned Thursday, August 17.

"Persecution continues to rise for Christians in India, especially those living in the northern states. In Rajasthan state, the legislative assembly passed an anti-conversion bill, which was sent to the governor for final approval," said US-based Christian Aid Mission (CAM), which supports native missionaries in India.

Under the new law, punishment for both the converter and the converted is two to five years imprisonment and and/or a fine. The governor has reportedly returned the bill to the government amid fears it violates India's constitution, but local Christians remain concerned.

"Native missionaries working with a CAM-supported ministry in Rajasthan reported that, in light of the controversial bill, they are constantly questioned and accused of trying to convert Hindus through their literature distribution and street preaching," CAM told BosNewsLife.


"The ministry has been an effective witness for Christ in Rajasthan {as} after reading the literature, many people have written to the ministry to request more information," CAM added. They then have the option of enrolling in what staff members describe as "the ministry's discipleship correspondence course." CAM stressed, "Regardless of the outcome of the bill, the ministry plans to continue their Gospel work."

The Rajasthan bill is reportedly very similar to those already passed in the Indian states of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Chattisgarh. "In Madhya Pradesh, the state government passed an amendment to anti-conversion legislation, requiring clergy and prospective converts to notify authorities one month before a conversion ceremony is to take place, including the name and address of the convert, along with the date and venue of the conversion ceremony, "recalled CAM.

The penalty for failing to notify the administration is imprisonment of up to one year, a fine or both, observers said. Frequently Hindu militants have invoked the state's anti-conversion law as a means of inciting mobs against Christians or having them arrested without evidence, Indian Christians say.

In one of the latest incidents in Rajasthan, "Hindu fanatics" on Sunday, August 13, attacked pastors who had gone to attend a pastors’ conference at Padla village of the state's Banswada district, local Christians said.


"They abused Pastor Mathai, snatched away his mobile phone, important documents, clothes and umbrella. They then turned to Pastor Suresh Bhuria, took off his clothes, and assaulted him with an iron rod and stones," the All India Christian Council (AICC) said in a statement monitored by BosNewsLife.

"The Pastors pleaded with the assailants to be left alone, but the assailants threatened saying they would killed them if they dared to report the matter to the police. The assailants then fled the place," and the injured pastors returned home, added the AICC which represents several denominations and mission organizations.

In the state of Madhya Pradesh on Monday, August 14, a group of up to 50 supporters of the Hindu group Dharma Raksha Sena Hindu allegedly attacked Assembly of God Pastor Vinod Karsal, 50, as he visited another church leader in the area of Jabalpur to pray for him.

Karsal was reportedly later detained and held for several hours on charges of "forcible conversion." Last month in Kerala state a pastor and members of a Pentecostal Church in Kattakkada were attacked by Hindu radicals while they were attending a prayer service in the morning on July 9, AICC said. Two believers were seriously injured in the attack.

Native missionaries and pastors fear the violence will increase in India, amid anger among Hindu groups and local authorities over the spread of Christianity in several regions. The country of about 1.1 billion people is predominantly Hindu and Christians comprise less than three percent of the population. (With BosNewsLife Research and reports from India).

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