Officials in India’s Karnataka State Reportedly Order Investigation Into All Christian Missionaries In Region

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Officials in India’s Karnataka state have ordered investigations into all Christian missionaries in the region, official and unofficial, as an effort to enact anti-conversion laws on the part of the country’s Hindu nationalist political party.

The decision was reportedly made last week at a meeting of the Backward Classes and Minorities Welfare Committee, with one lawmaker also advocating for the withdrawal of government benefits for Hindus who convert to Christianity.

Hindu nationalists in India have been vocally advocating for the enactment of such policies and laws which they say are meant to restrict forcible or coercive conversions but which international religious freedom advocates warn are often simply leveraged against religious minorities and act as thinly-veiled restrictions on religious freedom as laid out in India’s national constitution.

International Christian Concern reports that several Karnataka state legislators, including Goolihatti Shekar, a member of the Hindu nationalist BJP party, participated in last week’s meeting and Shekar also advocated for Christian missionaries to be registered with the government.

This comes as BJP members in the state’s government have been issuing vocal support for anti-conversion laws similar to those on the books in other Indian states.

“The government is studying laws implemented in this regard by the various state governments in the country,” said Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai. “The law in this regard will be enacted soon in Karnataka.”

During a meeting of the state Assembly, Shekar claimed his mother had converted to Christianity without his knowledge, but last week, he told the media that she had returned back to Hinduism after taking part in a Ghar Wapsi, or “Coming Home” program meant to reconvert wayward Hindus back to their religion.

“Across India, radical Hindu nationalists use the specter for mass conversions to Christianity and Islam to enact laws limiting the religious freedom of minorities. According to these nationalists, masses of low caste Hindus are converted to Christianity and Islam through illicit means and a law must be enacted to stop this from happening,” ICC notes.

“Radical Hindu nationalists also use anti-conversion laws as legal cover when persecuting Christians and closing churches. After assaulting a pastor or disrupting a church service, radicals falsely accused their victims of engaging in conversions to justify their criminal actions. As a result, police arrest the Christians and allow the radicals to go free,” they explain.

We’ve covered several instances of this kind of harassment this year at Elizabeth Johnston Ministries, including one instance in which the man who was supposedly being forcibly converted was merely being comforted by some Christian neighbors after three of his family members died of COVID-19.

The man was infuriated and adamantly defended his friends to the Hindu mob that showed up at his house as he was grieving, but nonetheless, police were later summoned and arrested the Christians.

It is chilling to see the open, vocal advocacy of laws that appear to be so clearly used to discriminate against religious minorities in a nation as prominent and important on the world stage as India.

Pray for those working to shine Christ’s light in this hostile climate and those who risk so much to follow it.

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