India (MNN) — Election season is about to begin in India – the world’s largest democracy by population. Starting April 11, some 900 million eligible voters will head to the ballot box. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s position is up for grabs, along with roles at the state and local levels in 573 constituencies.
The outcome is far from certain, but one thing’s crystal-clear: Christians are in the cross-hairs.
Persecution is up by 57-percent compared to last year, according to the Religious Liberty Commission of the Evangelical Fellowship of India. Voice of the Martyrs Canada spokesman Greg Musselman explains, “Because they’re not Hindu, they’re not considered Indian.
“They are targeted because they are a minority; they’re not going along with what everybody else is. People are coming to know Jesus and that causes problems, too.”
Making sure everyone has access to the polls is an epic logistical feat – imagine the chaos that would ensue if 900 million people all tried to vote on the same day. Instead, India’s voting process takes place in phases. Full election schedule here.
Between April 11 and May 19, some 10 million voting officials will monitor the voting process at 1 million polling stations set up across the country. Final results are expected on May 23.
Hindu nationalism and Christian persecution
When Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014, India was ranked #28 on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List. Today, the South Asian nation sits at #10.
Empowered by rhetoric put forth under Modi’s regime, Hindu nationalists began a campaign of ongoing violence against Christians. More than 85-percent of Indian believers surveyed last year by International Christian Concern encountered “an increase in violence from Hindu radicals against their communities, families, and places of worship.”
As described here on VOM Canada’s website,
“In 2018, Christians in India experienced an attack every 24 hours, a dramatic increase from past years. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Hindu nationalist organization has seen a 20-percent increase in membership and an emboldened base aimed at further cementing India’s Hindu identity among its great diversity of languages, cultures and religions.”
With new leadership on the horizon, are better days ahead for Christians? Musselman is doubtful. “They (officials) say that there is religious freedom and ‘we’re going to work towards that’, but the reality on the ground is that’s not happening,” he explains.
“Persecution against Christians is increasing. Whether a change of government, whether a change of leaders will stop or reduce persecution – unfortunately, I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
Ask the Lord to protect His followers in India.
“Prayer is always the most important thing that we can do… and then in that prayer, the Lord may move us to do something practical,” notes Musselman.
“We’re working with partners within India to strengthen the Church… and, again, as the Holy Spirit guides and leads us, to help in practical ways.”
BJP flag pictured in the header image, obtained via Wikimedia Commons.