Rise in Hindu nationalism is becoming a serious threat to Christians in India
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party won the elections and assumed control of India, there was a surge in Hindu nationalism at the expense of non-Hindu minorities. There have been more than 600 attacks on Muslims and Christians since Modi’s Hindu BJP came to power.
Since becoming Prime Minister in May 2014, Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist, has been accused of not speaking out clearly against persecution of religious minorities and failing to act. Human rights watchdogs have suggested that extremist Hindus have intensified their anti-Christian campaigns under the Prime Minister who is perceived as sympathetic to their views. The rise in the number of attacks against religious minorities seems to support this.
Although India’s “Freedom of Religion” legislation may appear to offer protection to religious minorities, in reality these laws only serve to make it more difficult for Hindus to convert to another faith. More worryingly the Freedom of Religion laws are being misused to punish Christians for evangelizing by encouraging unprovoked attacks against evangelists. Many false accusations of evangelizing have also been made against individual clergymen as an excuse for subjecting them to harassment and even arrest.
On a national level, just one year after Modi’s Hindu Nationalist Party came to power, the General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in India has little hope for the future of Christianity in India. Hindu nationalists are threatening to raze all local churches if Indians persist in worshiping Christ and warning that anyone who even mentions the name of Jesus will be banished, boycotted and have their land confiscated.
Amid signs of an increase of intolerance against Christians and other minorities, India is now a priority country for Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). We support the training of seminarians, give Mass stipends to poor and persecuted priests, help Sisters in their humanitarian work, build churches and provide Christian education and catechises. With many projects concentrated in the north of the country, ACN has also helped Christians fleeing persecution from Hindu extremists.