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ICC Note:

A house church in India’s Madhya Pradesh state has been threatened with demolition by the local municipality. According to Mahendra Bauddha, the owner of the house church, he received a notice from the chief municipal officer saying that holding religious activities in his home was illegal and, if reported again, could lead to the demolition of his home. The requirement of government permission for a house church has been rejected by India’s courts who have said house churches are protected under the Article 25 rights in India’s constitution. Will the law be enforced in this case and the house church protected from demolition? 

11/10/2017 India (Times of India) – A family in the Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh has been threatened with demolition of their house by local municipality for gathering some local residents as a house-church. The said premise is located in Balaghat’s Lanji area and is owned by one Mahendra Bauddha, who claims to be a social activist.

Notice from the chief municipal officer (CMO) of Lanji reads, “This has come to our knowledge through sources that this building is being used as church and prayer meets. Since this building has not been declared as [a] church, no religious activities can be carried out in the premises. If any such activities are reported after getting this notice, you would be solely accountable for any action of demolition taken under Madhya Pradesh Municipal Corporation Act.”

Mahendra Baudha said he has not changed his religion to Christianity yet but is a firm believer of Jesus Christ. “We are living in this house for last 12 years. Some local residents who have faith in Jesus do visit my house for prayers often and none of them are Christians. We are not into an evangelical activity,” he told TOI over phone. He also said that a group of people in the locality had been intimidating him for the last many years. “I was attacked in 2007. Threats through phone calls have become a routine affair,” he added.

Madhya Pradesh was reported as the worst place for anti-Christian attacks, followed by Tamil Nadu and Jharkhand till 2015 according a report published by Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) in 2016. The report documents 200 incidents of hate speech and violence against Christians in India, including women and children.

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