Pastors in India beaten and jailed simply for praying in their own homes

Evangelicals in India are calling on Christian leaders in the UK to pressure the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit this week to intervene to help persecuted Christians in India.

Christians are being beaten and killed in India and the influence of hardline Hindus has increased since Modi’s government was elected in summer last year, according to the charity Open Doors.

Vijesh Lall, secretary of the Freedom and Development Commission of the Evangelical Fellowship of India, told Christian Today: “The situation has deteriorated in the north. It is not just Christians. It is other minorities and civil society being affected as well.”

He described one incident where Christian pastors were beaten and jailed simply for praying together in a private house.

“The Christians on the ground are fearful and have been for quite some time. People used to attack Christians if they evangelised on the street. Now Christians are not even safe if they are praying in their own homes.

“In one incident not long ago about 35 kilometres from Delhi, 13 pastors were gathered in the house of another pastor. They were praying. It was prayer meeting. There was no preaching or evangelising. They were attacked and beaten. They were taken to the police station where they were told: ‘This is a Hindu nation. Your kind of prayers are not allowed.’ They were released later that day after many hours in custody.”

He conceded that the Modi had on at least two different occasions said everyone in the country will have freedom of religion. “But nothing seems to be happening on the ground.”

Last year there were 147 anti-Christian incidents and already this year to the end of October there have been 130.

“I do not see a bright future unless the Prime Minister really does something. He’s there in your country now. Maybe people can try and talk to him about this,” he pleaded.

Of the population of 1.21 billion, about 2.3 per cent are Christian, between 25 million and 27 million.

Modi’s three-day visit to the UK has been marked by protests. Hundreds of angry demonstrators are protesting against Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, which has been accused of creating “an atmosphere of religious intolerance and impunity” by religious freedom charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

The defeat of Modi’s party in the Bihar elections is however a game-changer. Christians and people of Indian heritage worldwide are angry that Modi is apparently allowing India’s great and historic reputation as a nation reputation where religious tolerance is practised to be tarnished by allowing those promoting the “to be Indian is to be Hindu” doctrine to range free.

A report earlier this year by the Evangelical Fellowship of India and the Alliance Defending Freedom, Hate and Targeted Violence Against Christians in India, detailed violence against Christians and found 54 per cent of attacks were in the form of threats, intimidation and coercion, often with the police looking on. Physical violence constituted a quarter of all cases and violence against Christian women, a trend that is increasing, was 11 per cent. Breaking of statues and the Cross, and other acts of desecration were recorded in about 8 per cent of cases.

Another report, 300 Days: Documenting Sangh Hate and Communal Violence Under the Violence under the Modi Regime, drafted by prominent Christian and Muslim Human Rights activists and scholars, also tells a dark story.

In the first 300 days of Prime Minister Modi’s term, which began which began on May 26, 2014, the authors documented 600 reported cases of religious intolerance directed towards religious minorities. Of these, 149 were against Christians. There were 43 deaths from these acts of violence.

The states experiencing the most incidents of reported violence are Chhattisgarh with 28 incidents, followed closely by neighbouring Madhya Pradesh with 26, Uttar Pradesh with 18 and Telengana, a new state carved out of Andhra Pradesh, with 15 incidents.

One example of the kind of public discourse Christians and Muslims are concerned about came from Mohan Bhagwat, the head of the powerful Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh. Speaking at the 50th Anniversary of foundation of its religious wing, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bhagwat said: “Hindutva is the identity of India and it has the capacity to swallow other identities. We just need to restore those capacities.” He has also stated that India is a Hindu state and “citizens of Hindustan should be known as Hindus”.

 

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Praising Jesus is out, but SEE what IS OK on Toronto city property

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Christian leaders say faith under attack in Canada by governments, regulators

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By: CBC News

A group of Canadian Christian leaders is raising the alarm about what they say are attacks on their faith, citing barriers to a Christian university setting up a law school and doctors opposed to ending pregnancies being forced to refer patients elsewhere.

The group, including Charles McVety, president of the Institute for Canadian Values, pointed to a number of recent events they said equate to an attack on the Christian faith and impinge on Christians’ ability to practice their faith.

The events include:

– A refusal by three provincial bar associations to accredit any potential law school graduate of Trinity Western University, which prohibits sexual intimacy outside heterosexual marriage among its students.

– A letter from Bank of Montreal to the Law Society of Upper Canada, which governs Ontario lawyers, arguing against accrediting Trinity Western’s proposed law school.

– A commitment by the general counsel of 72 companies to promote diversity and inclusion.

– The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario requiring that doctors with religious objections to birth control or abortion refer those patients to another physician.

“Unfortunately, Christians in this country find themselves under attack,” McVety said at a news conference on Parliament Hill.

“This is a violation, and we are calling on the Canadian government to stop this type of violation across this country.”

British Columbia last December revoked approval for Trinity Western’s proposed law school, which was planned to launch in 2016. Law societies in B.C., Ontario and Nova Scotia have voted to deny accreditation to future graduates.

But the Nova Scotia Supreme Court overturned the provincial law society’s decision, which the Nova Scotia Barristers Society said yesterday it would appeal.

Trinity Western is also fighting the rejection of the Law Society of British Columbia and has said it will fight the rejection in Ontario too.

‘We cannot be silent’

Law societies in Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nunavut have decided to accept Trinity Western’s graduates.

Lawyer André Schutten, who has intervened in a number of freedom of religion court cases, said regulations and laws “continue to be passed that restrict or curtail the religious freedom of Canadians.”

“In various municipalities, Christians have been prevented or even fined for holding church services in rented public space,” said Schutten, legal counsel for the Association for Reformed Political Action.

“Professional bodies have indicated they want to force doctors to violate their consciences by either performing or being forced to refer for procedures that are immoral — including the horrific and barbarous act of killing innocent pre-born children.”

Bill Prankard, president of the Bill Prankard Evangelistic Association, noted every Canadian is protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

‘Enough is enough’

“While other groups are being granted more and more rights, we’ve been losing ours,” he said.

“We are saying enough is enough. We cannot be silent anymore.”

Schutten said the group is looking for a statement from the federal government in support of religious freedom across the country, but admits the issues they raised Wednesday morning have more to do with provincial and municipal governments, as well as professional regulatory bodies.

“[Such a statement] ready-sets the tone for inclusivity, tolerance of other world views, including the Judeo-Christian world view,” he said.

“Those levels of government also have to step up and be willing and ready to play fair with religious groups, including and especially I think Christian groups.”

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