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ICC Note:

Christians across India celebrated an uneasy Christmas this year amid reports of ever increasing persecution spreading across the country. Mass conversions, attacks on Christmas carolers and the burning of churches all were part of the news leading up to the Christmas holiday. Now looking out to 2015, many Christians wonder if the situation for Christians in India will improve or get worse. Please pray for India. 

12/27/2014 India (Aljazeera) – Growing unease about the “mass conversions” by Hindu far-right groups of religious minorities cast a distinctly non-festive shadow over Christmas celebrations in India.

Right-wing Hindu groups have held a series of such ceremonies with an organization in the northern Uttar Pradesh state announcing plans to conduct mass-conversions on Christmas Day.

Although the event in Aligarh was postponed before Christmas, and no new date has been set for it, the plans touched a raw nerve among minorities in a country prone to inter-communal violence.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has so far remained silent about the mass conversions – prompting opposition lawmakers to demand that he make a statement or paralyze the parliament.

“People are nervous about the new government at the center as they feel such activities will be condoned,” said Osmond Charles, a lawyer and prominent member of the Christian community in Aligarh – a city known for its lock industry and famous Aligarh Muslim University.

Despite the plans to conduct a mass conversion by Dharam Jagran Manch – a group linked to the Hindu nationalist umbrella organisation Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) – a sense of devotion and relaxation marked a foggy Christmas Day in Aligarh’s  churches.

About 50 Christians flocked to early morning service at the small but beautifully restored Christ Church, which was established in 1835. Among their number were Navneet Kedar and his family, who said: “There was no question of staying at home – it’s a day to celebrate.”

The musician has been attending mass at the church since childhood. When it was renovated in 2004, he was at the forefront of efforts to increase the strength of the congregation.

“My wife and I both missed having music as part of the service, so we organised a choir here.”

At the larger Church of Ascension in the city, worshippers such as pensioner Prem Taj Masih mingled with people from other faiths.

“We are welcoming people to the church,” he said. “My forebears have been coming to this church since it was established in 1868. There is no sense of fear from the Hindu masses.”

Outside the church, the brightly dressed crowd exchanging greetings and taking photographs included people of other faiths such as college students Subi Bansal and Yashi Jain.

“We went to convent schools and wanted to revisit the fun we had at Christmas there with our friends,” said Jain. The pair felt at ease in the congregation, and had enjoyed singing hymns with the choir.

“We go to all kinds of religious ceremonies,” said Bansal. “It’s good to respect all faiths.”

Businessman Anil Jacob says such mingling of faith groups is not unusual.

“Each Sunday, people come here to show their devotion. Often there are more people from different religions here than Christians. So why all this talk of dividing us?”

[Full Story]