Upcoming India elections stir fear, prayer

By April 3, 2014
BJP flag
Narendra Modi addressing crowd.  (Image taken from Narendra Modi's personal feed on Flickr)

Narendra Modi addressing crowd.
(Image taken from Narendra Modi’s personal feed on Flickr)

India (MNN) — India elections are a month-long call to prayer for believers in the West. From Monday April 7 to May 12, over 814 million people will cast their ballots for a new Prime Minister and Cabinet. CH Dyer of Bright Hope International says it’s a chance for the international Church to stand with their brothers and sisters in Christ in India.

“We think this is an interesting time to be involved in India, and we see God just leading more and more people to Himself, even in the face of the persecution,” says Dyer.

“If it increases, we believe the Church will continue to grow.”

One of the candidates running for Prime Minister has India’s Christians on-edge.

“There is deep concern over this election because of the strength of this candidate, and the party he represents,” Dyer explains.

Narendra Modi represents the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a nationalist group that advocates hindutva. Hindutva is an ideology that defines culture in terms of Hindu values; in other words, “To be Indian is to be Hindu.”

Religious minorities regard both Modi and the BJP as significant threats.

“The record of Mr. Modi and of his party is terrible as far as religious minorities–especially Christians and Muslims–are concerned,” a prominent Christian activist recently told Morning Star News.

In 2002, a year after Modi took office as the state’s chief minister, widespread anti-Muslim violence broke out in Gujarat. Following a controversial train fire in February, Modi claimed “terrorists” had initiated the disaster. Hindu mobs targeted shrines and mosques, and perpetrated unspeakable acts of violence against Muslim women and children.

A Christian girl who was bruised and burnt during the Orissa violence in August 2008. This girl was injured with burns bruises during anti Christian violence by Hindu nationalists. It occured when a bomb was thrown into her house by extremists. (Image, caption courtesy All India Christian Council)

A Christian girl who was bruised and burnt
during the Orissa violence in August 2008.
This girl was injured with burns bruises during
anti-Christian violence by Hindu nationalists.
It occurred when a bomb was thrown into
her house by extremists.
(Image, caption courtesy All India Christian Council)

Speaking about the massacre in her book, India Divided, author Vandana Shiva writes, “Young boys have been taught to burn, rape, and kill in the name of Hindutva.”

Six years later, the BJP turned a blind eye to anti-Christian violence in Orissa state. On August 23, 2008, a well-known Hindu swami was assassinated by Maoists, but Christians were blamed for the attack. In the following months, thousands of believers were viciously attacked while homes and churches were burnt to the ground.

Modern India’s concerns
Despite these blatant instances of radical Hinduism, India’s voters are holding Modi and the BJP up as beacons of hope. According to a Pew study released at the end of February, people prefer BJP three-to-one over the Congress party, which has ruled India for the past decade.

In addition, some 150 million people will be heading to the polls for the first time this spring. A recent article by The Guardian’s Swapan Dasgupta suggests economic betterment for India is at the forefront of young voters’ minds.

“The Modi of 2014 epitomizes the quest for material betterment,” pens Dasgupta. “For an India that seeks to blend good economics with global relevance, the strongman Modi is the answer. Opinion polls suggest a wide personal endorsement of Modi among 18- to 35-year-old voters.”

Another issue high on the list for India’s voters, especially in Delhi, is women’s rights. Following the 2012 gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old college student, India took steps to reduce the amount of violent attacks against women. A year ago, India passed a new law criminalizing stalking, voyeurism, and acid attacks.

Bright Hope believes that equipping the local, in-country church is the critical element needed to combat human trafficking in India. (Image, caption courtesy Bright Hope)

Bright Hope believes that equipping the local, in-country church is the critical element needed to combat
human trafficking in India.
(Image, caption courtesy Bright Hope)

The prevalence of women’s rights is resulting in positive side effects for Bright Hope’s Anti-Human Trafficking program.

“It’s given us an opportunity to see our partnerships, which are churches…increase their relationships and have better relationships with police and with government officials,” Dyer notes.  “[But] if there is a regime change, how will those relationships protect, or maybe even be turned against, the churches?

“Only the Lord knows what will happen, but I would venture to say that the relationships–relationships that have been built over the anti-human trafficking agenda–might act as somewhat of a protector for some of the churches.”

Put a reminder on your phone to pray for the Church in India.

“I think it’s as simple as taking one minute, right now, and asking God: ‘Lord, protect our brothers and sisters in Christ. Give them a government that will allow them freedom to share Your name,'” prays Dyer.

Learn more about Bright Hope’s work in India here.


  • stephanie says:

    Lord as an american I’ve taken so much for granted by the freedom I have to worship you openly without fear. In thy name lord we ask for the same freedom for our brothers and sisters in India. We know you have everything planned beforehand but you always have had someone fighting for you. Give our brothers and sister strength and courage to stand in these times of persecution. Grant them forgiveness as you forgive. Love as you love in Jesus name.

  • Join in the campaign to Pray for India by adopting a constituency @ http://www.letsprayforindia.com for a Government led by God

  • Freedom is the freedom to relate to God in a way that makes sense to Hindus. Religious truth is compassionate to include multiple visions of God, who does not mind. Hinduism has great insights to offer to practitioners of Christian tradition, including the good news that there is no original sin and we are all divine. Hindu vision is that of an immanent God and not a creator God who stands distant. Christian brothers and sisters, move beyond your narrow conception of God and appreciate the Hindu vision. In the name of deliverance, do not fund missionaries to dupe and convert poor and disenfranchised, who can be helped better by helping them connect to their Hindu culture and economic prosperity in India that can include them. Violence is not just physical, but destruction of meaning to replace it with your own version- especially in the subjective realm of religion. To think your version is true and every one else’s is the devil’s ploy is as arrogant as it gets.

  • mas says:

    God will definitely say India.
    He said in Bhagavat Gita.

    Yada Yada hi dharmasya
    glanir bhavati Bharata
    Abhyudhanam adharmasya
    tadaatmanam srjamam aham

    Meaning: Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion–at that time I descend Myself.

    Please read.
    In 1950, when India got Independence from British Empire, some “peace loving people” set fire famous Sabarimala temple. In 1950, people were just recovering atrocities committed by British Christian Imperialists. People of United States know why they fought against British empire and how they got freedom. Anyway, Hindus, didn’t attack any Christians in retaliation, nor any churches were destroyed. But they voted 1st communist party into power.

    Thank You…

  • Suraj says:

    Well said Murugan! Christianity and there different sects hold very basic philosophies. Just a little prayer here and there and that’s it. Hindusim holds all the metaphysics of the highest spirituality.

    That is why for these christian sects to get any members they have to fool people with all kinds of incentives. But look at the people from the west who are joining hinduism in the thousands – they have studied hindusim and are looking for high spiritual experiences. Christianity is basically a very low religion catering mainly for the gross body while hinduism reaches to the sky!

    India should kick those (edited for offensive language) alien religion out!

  • Katey Hearth says:

    For all of those favoring Hinduism who’ve commented on this story, do you agree with the views of Hindutva, that “to be Indian is to be Hindu”?

  • impartial says:

    please see yajurveda 40:9

    andhatma pravishanti asambhavti mupaste
    hindu brothers and sisters please follow your vedas ….

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