Indian Christians Forced to Choose Between Christ and Government Stipends
Recently, Hindu nationalist organizations have escalated their efforts to convert Christians and other religious minorities to Hinduism. These efforts at proselytization are part of an ongoing campaign by Hindu nationalists against Christians. In violation of India’s constitution, Hindu nationalists have steered government welfare benefits away from Christians, pressuring them to convert to Hinduism in order to receive benefits. As Christians are disproportionately found in the poor Dalit class, the decision to stand firm in their faith exacerbates their economic misery.
7/27/2015 India (Christian Post) – A Hindu nationalist organization has converted 39 people from Dalit Christian families to Hinduism in a controversial ceremony aimed at making them eligible for a government benefits program.
“We are moving ahead with our initiative and more families from other religions will be reconverted to Hinduism soon. We are being approached by many people who want to come back to their original faith,” said Viswha Hindu Parishad Alappuzha District Chief Prathap G Padickal, according to the Times of India.
The “ghar wapsi” programme in Kerala’s Alappuzha district previously oversaw another 30 Dalit Christians convert to Hinduism in December 2014.
The Dalits, known as the “untouchables,” make up India’s lowest caste, and are eligible for certain government benefits if they identify as Hindus
International Christian Concern, which reports on persecution taking place in India, noted that Christians from such low caste backgrounds are often soft targets for Hindu nationalists, who are seeking to take advantage of the stipulation in the government benefits program and lure people of other faiths into Hinduism.
“In most cases, people from low caste backgrounds are afforded government stipends and advantages, but these stipends and advantages are denied to low caste people who are registered as Christians or Muslims in India,” ICC noted. “In many cases the allurement o these government stipends and advantages are enough to convince people to convert to Hinduism.”