India (MNN) — The U.S. Department of State's 2007 Report on
International Religious Freedom gives India high marks for respecting religious
Because of the number of cases of anti-Christian violence
reported, Open Doors' Carl Moeller disagrees with the findings. The All India Christian Council disputes the
report saying the incidence of anti-Christian violence is much higher than
available statistics indicate, as most cases are not reported to the police and
are ignored by the media.
The report covered the period from July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2007 and
says the government of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), led by the Indian
National Congress or Congress Party, "generally
respected" religious freedom in practice.
However, that doesn't reveal the true state of the
Church. Moeller says, "The dialogue
between Hindu nationalists and government agencies and religious parties,
including Christians, Muslims and others, is a good step, but it certainly is a
token step when it comes to bringing real religious freedom and real religious
liberty to those places where Hindu nationalists are taking power."
The report on India criticizes "anti-conversion" laws
enacted or amended by some state governments, asserting that Congress Party
officials in Himachal Pradesh state passed an anti-conversion law that,
"similar to other laws of its kind, restricts and regulates religious
Dr. John Dayal, secretary general of the All India Christian
Council (AICC) agrees. "I record and
prove between 200 and 400 cases of anti-Christian violence a year in my
unofficial white paper released annually since 1997, but the actual figure may
be from 1,000 to 2,000 such cases a year, perhaps even more."
It appears some religious parties are using their influence
to marginalize Christians, says Moeller. "They're creating environments that have less and less ability for
Christians to speak, to gather together, to evangelize freely."
From 130 to 150
attacks in a country of 1 billion may not sound like much, but Christian
leaders said that not only are attacks under-reported but that targeting
of a minority community is alarming. Moreover, the attacks are concentrated in
What can be done? Moeller says, "Christians need to pray that the democratic process in
India would be strengthened, that Christians would be given the proper
minority representation at this point, and that the proper rights would be