Christians in Uttarakhand, India Facing Greater Threat of Persecution

ICC Note: Another state in India has passed an anti-conversion law, increasing threats of persecution for Christians sharing their faith. Uttarakhand has become the seventh state in India to pass a Freedom of Religion Law that criminalizes forced conversions and requires state approval for all religious conversions. Hindu radicals often abuse these laws to harass Christian leaders and justify acts of violence.

05/16/2018 India (Premier) – More Christians in India who share their faith face a jail sentence of up to five years due to the expansion of an anti-conversion law.

Uttarakhand has become the seventh state in India to adopt the law, according to Christian charity Release International, which supports persecuted Christians worldwide.

The new law requires clergy who lead a person to Christ to give one month’s notice before doing so, which will spark a police investigation into the proposed conversion. Also, individuals wanting to change their religion must first get permission from the state government.

“These so-called ‘Freedom of Religion’ laws have exactly the opposite effect,” said Paul Robinson from Release International. “They are intended to limit the freedom of individuals to change their faith, and the freedom of Christians to share their faith. These laws are the result of a hardline Hindu backlash to prevent the spread of Christianity in India.”

The charity said it’s seen a rise in the number of attacks against Christians and the churches in India. The attacks coincide with the rise of extreme Hindu nationalism. Hindu nationalists believe that to be Indian is to be Hindu, and will not tolerate other faiths.

Militants have beaten, threatened and killed church workers. They have tried to force Christians to renounce their faith and convert to Hinduism. They have also bombed, torched, vandalized and demolished churches and Christian schools, and disrupted services and prayer meetings.

Anti-conversion laws are now in force in Uttarakhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Jharkhand

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For interviews with William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org

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