More than 15,000 Christians from around 70 denominations in India came together in the capital New Delhi last month to protest against ongoing persecution.
The peaceful protests on Sunday 19 February called on the government, the court and civil society to intervene on behalf of persecuted Christians, particularly in states that in recent years have passed so-called ‘anti-conversion laws’.
In theory, these laws prohibit forced conversion from Hinduism to another religion, but in practice they are often used as an excuse to harass and intimidate Christians who are simply doing things like distributing aid or having a private church meeting.
India is number 11 on the World Watch List, making it a place of extreme persecution for many of the country’s 69.5 million Christians (five per cent of the total population).
According to research by the United Christian Forum, a New Delhi-based human rights group, there were 598 reported cases of violence against Christians in 2022. Just before Christmas, hundreds of tribal Christians were forced to flee their homes in Chhattisgarh state after they were attacked, allegedly for converting to Christianity.
Last month, a church in Madhya Pradesh was burned down and a slogan praising Jesus erased and replaced with the name of a Hindu deity. Three men have been arrested in connection with the incident.
Last month’s protest is hopefully another positive step towards provoking the authorities into more decisive action for Christians affected by persecution.
Last year, the Supreme Court began an investigation into the issue, which last month led to the court telling the governments of seven states to urgently provide details of attacks on Christians and give feedback as to what steps were taken in responding to the incidents. The order comes after they failed to produce the requested information in response to an earlier court order in September. They were given three weeks to comply.
Meanwhile, in another promising development, a Commission has been asked to investigate whether a government benefit for society’s poorest people can be extended to include minority religions, including Christianity.
The scale of opposition against many Christians is huge and these steps will only mean anything if the authorities resolve to provide Christians with greater protection and freedom. Please continue to pray for our Indian family.
That this protest will galvanise the authorities into providing Christians with greater protection and freedom
For the protection, strength and encouragement of believers across India.
For strength and boldness for believers on the Arabian Peninsula
That developments with the Supreme Court and support for society’s poorest will lead to real change for many Christians in India
That Nadia will continue to grow in her faith
That God would help Open Doors partners to reach and support more persecuted Christians.
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