India (MNN) — Fourteen U.S. senators recently endorsed a letter calling on U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to add India to the State Department’s Country of Particular Concern (CPC) list.
In a document signed by ten Republican and four Democratic senators, the Coalition to Stop Genocide in India asks Pompeo to hold India accountable for “systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations, as defined by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA),” Indicanews reports.
If Secretary Pompeo chooses not to make the CPC designation, CSGI urges him to explain his reasoning to Congress:
“There is strong bipartisan Congressional support for holding India accountable for its escalating violence against its principal minorities, the Muslims and Christians. The U.S. Government must designate India a CPC.”
“What they’re trying to do is shine a light on the persecution that’s taking place in India,” says Todd Nettleton, Voice of the Martyrs USA spokesman. Citing “escalating violence” against India’s religious minorities, the letter calls upon officials to implement USCIRF recommendations outlined here.
“The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom looks at religious freedom around the world, and they make recommendations to the State Department as far as which countries should be Countries of Particular Concern,” Nettleton explains.
“The State Department [decides] to act on those recommendations or not act on them.”
Attacks against Christians have more than doubled in five years. Persecution rates spiked following Prime Minister Modi’s appointment in 2014, and they’ve only continued to increase. Read our past coverage here.
To CPC, or not to be?
The decision isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. Adding India to the CPC list could support what President Trump’s June executive order intended – making religious freedom a more substantial part of diplomatic affairs.
However, the designation could also be a costly decision. “A lot of U.S. companies have offices in India; there’s a lot of trade back and forth between the two countries,” Nettleton notes. As explained here, the U.S.-India trade reached $149 billion last year.
“Putting sanctions in place that would affect some of the income for different businesses becomes a harder decision for the State Department [to make].”
At the very least, this letter serves as a reminder to government decision-makers. NGOs and senators “are ‘raising the flag’ and saying to the State Department, ‘Pay attention to this when you’re thinking about CPC [designations] for next year,’” Nettleton says.
Now that you know, how will you respond? Use prompts listed alongside this article to pray for India’s persecuted believers. “Whether the State Department says India is a Country of Particular Concern or not, Christians are still going to be persecuted there,” Nettleton says.
If you live in the U.S., consider reaching out to your elected officials and asking them to address this issue. Find your representative here. “As Christians and as voters, we need to make sure our leaders understand that we want religious freedom to be a priority,” Nettleton says.
“We want them to be willing to take those steps, even if it starts to cost some dollars to different U.S. entities. We believe religious freedom is that important.”
Finally, help meet the needs of India’s persecuted Christians here through VOM USA.
Header image depicts Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Ambassador-At-Large for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback at the International Religious Freedom Alliance dinner at the Department of State in Washington, D.C., on February 5, 2020. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/Public Domain]