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On the earth’s largest democracy, folks of religion aren’t free

(RNS) — On Might 31, within the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, a bunch of extremist Hindu nationalists broke into the home of a Christian pastor praying along with his household. They dragged him from his residence and beat him earlier than turning him over to authorities. 

Moderately than self-discipline the attackers, the police arrested and imprisoned the pastor, charging him with deliberate and malicious acts in opposition to one other faith, whereas failing to analyze the assaults dedicated in opposition to him.

Such occasions have gotten the norm among the many nation’s greater than 1.3 billion residents.

Earlier this yr, a Christian pastor was allegedly assaulted, tied up and compelled to chant a Hindu prayer. In December, festive Christmas celebrations had been disrupted, and statues of Jesus were smashed. Across the similar time, a Catholic school was vandalized by a big mob whereas college students had been inside taking exams. On Maundy Thursday, a mob confronted dozens of worshippers gathered at a church. All suspected Christians had been detained by police after which arrested.

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Because the world’s largest democracy, India may be anticipated to be a bastion of liberty, together with the liberty to worship. However non secular extremism is resulting in a dire state of affairs for followers of Jesus there.

Ranked No. 10 on Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List, India has emerged as probably the most harmful locations for Christians to apply their religion in only a few quick years. America and the remainder of the free world should discover a option to flip the tide of hate in India, demanding an finish to the vicious assaults on Christians and different non secular minorities.

The driving power behind the groundswell of Christian persecution in India is Hindutva, an extremist pressure of Hinduism that disregards India’s non secular minorities, claiming they aren’t true Indians as a result of they’ve allegiances that lie outdoors of the nation’s majority faith. A Pew survey discovered final yr that though most Hindus say they’re tolerant of different faiths, 64% surveyed say it’s essential to be Hindu with a purpose to be “actually Indian.”

New knowledge reported by Open Doors USA, the group that I lead, reveals that in 2021 eight Indian states recorded 50 or extra violent acts of persecution dedicated in opposition to Christians. Eight further states logged between 15 and 49 documented assaults. In complete, Open Doorways has recorded greater than 500 assaults, and our working assumption is that there are numerous which have gone unreported.

“Violence Towards Christians in India by State” Graphic courtesy of OpenDoors

Why does the Indian authorities tolerate such blatant bigotry and faith-based violence inside its borders? In any case, non secular freedom is enshrined in Article 25 of India’s Constitution, which states that “all individuals are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the fitting freely to profess, apply and propagate faith.”

But, at a June 2 information convention held by the U.S. State Division to introduce the 2021 International Religious Freedom Report, Secretary of State Antony Blinken particularly singled out India for “rising assaults on folks in locations of worship.”

A part of the state of affairs could be defined by demographics. Christians solely make up about 2% of India’s population, which suggests they lack the numbers essential to successfully form public coverage and demand accountability for treating Christian apply as against the law.

Sustained worldwide stress from nations similar to America might tip the size in favor of freedom.

Whereas Blinken’s public statements are begin, way more is required. The Biden administration must name on the Indian authorities to guard Christians and different non secular minorities, particularly their homes of worship and different weak targets. We should require that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration maintain state officers and native police forces accountable for faith-related acts of violence and discrimination. And we have to prayerfully stand by our Indian brothers and sisters and allow them to know they aren’t alone.

RELATED: Human rights is on Blinken’s agenda in India. Can he make it stick?

The world’s largest democracy can solely achieve success when the tenets of its structure — and the rights of residents of all religions — are fastidiously and persistently upheld.

David Curry. Courtesy photo

David Curry. Courtesy picture

(David Curry is the president and CEO of Open Doorways USA, a corporation that advocates on behalf of those that are persecuted for his or her Christian religion all through the world. For almost a decade, he has offered management to Open Doorways in its mission to boost consciousness and help for many who endure excessive restrictions and, in some circumstances, horrific violence for working towards their religion. For greater than 65 years, Open Doorways has labored on the planet’s most oppressive areas, empowering and equipping persecuted Christians in additional than 60 nations by offering Bibles, coaching and packages to assist those that have been marginalized for his or her religion. Open Doorways publishes the World Watch Checklist, an annual report on the 50 nations the place it’s most troublesome to stay as a Christian.)

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