India (MNN) — Christians heading to India on tourist visas
may have to be more careful, especially if they're heading to the state of
According to reports, police have closed prayer meetings in
five areas of the state claiming foreigners were leading prayer meetings and
were disturbing communal harmony.
Police say foreign Christians are entering India on tourist
visas to preach and evangelize. Officials say visitors should restrict
themselves to the purpose of their visa.
One area police commission says, "Whenever a foreigner
visits this country he has to mention the purpose of visit. If they mention
that they are coming on tourism they should restrict themselves to
tourism." "On a tourist visa they can participate in prayer meetings
but should not preach. If they want to come for the purpose of preaching, they
can mention the purpose while taking the visa. It is for the officials to
decide on the visa."
Christian organizations are criticizing the move they claim is a violation of
the Constitution. "It prevents the Indian Christian community from
inviting their friends to their social and religious meetings," say one
Christian. "Even attending meetings is now being viewed as a violation (of
visa rules),” he claims.
While no new guidelines have been issued by the police
department, there are indications that the police department may take action if
there are complaints or unrest caused by the foreign preachers or prayer