India (MNN) — A new report confirms escalating persecution in India. According to the Alliance Defending Freedom, believers have endured 218 acts of “religiously-motivated” violence this year. There have been more than 1,000 attacks since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014.
“Things are getting much more difficult for Christians in India,” says John Pudaite of Bibles For The World. “We’ve seen an increase of reportedly 400% in acts of violence and other incidents against Christians… year over year.”
While Hindu extremists are behind most of India’s persecution, Pudaite says the government is applying pressure, too.
“There’s a preparation of a nationwide anti-conversion bill that this government is rushing to get put before the Parliament. We’re expecting this could happen in the next three to six, perhaps nine months.”
Anti-conversion or anti-Christian?
Several states in India have their own anti-conversion laws. However, Pudaite’s contacts expect the national law will be more restrictive than those currently in place. More about that here.
“The Indian government, as I understand, has about 200 people working on these types of measures… they’ve got a team of lawyers drafting this and they want it to be ‘watertight’,” Pudaite explains.
“They talk about it as ‘anti-conversion’ but it’s really directed against Christians – not against some of the other religions that are existing in India.”
A few weeks ago, officials tightened restrictions on the notorious Foreigners Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) – the measure that forced Compassion International to leave the country in 2017. New restrictions require everyone working for a nonprofit to promise they have not and will not engage in religious conversion activities.
“There’s a number of organizations [with] people on their staff that have been prosecuted or convicted of religious conversion. So, those organizations can be singled out immediately for further investigation,” Pudaite says.
“It certainly puts everybody in a position where they’re really watching what they do carefully.”
Nepal follows in India’s footsteps
Believers see the same thing happening in neighboring Nepal. “One of our partners has been involved in lot of Scripture distribution in Nepal, and he was held over an entire weekend before he was able to be bailed out,” Pudaite says.
Nepal transformed from a Hindu kingdom to secular nation in 2015, and it’s been facing pressure from India ever since. Nepali authorities took a significant step last year by implementing anti-conversion legislation.
“We just know that Nepal [will] follow India’s lead. India can put a lot of pressure on Nepal because Nepal is a landlocked country. Everything… comes in or through or from India.”
Now that you know, what will you do? First, pray for Pudaite and his team as they visit partners in the region. “We’ll be leaving fairly shortly here and I just want to ask our listeners [and readers] for prayer,” Pudaite says.
“Pray that we may be a blessing and encouragement and edifying to those that we come into contact with.”
You can also support local believers in the region through Bibles For The World; click here for giving options.
Header image courtesy of Bibles For The World.