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ICC Note: BJP government officials in India continue to criticize a call to prayer issued by the Archbishop of Delhi calling on Christians to pray for the nation ahead of next year’s elections. BJP officials say the Archbishop is falsely claiming minorities are unsafe under the BJP-led government for political reasons. In fact, attacks on Christians and their places of worship have dramatically increase under the BJP-led government from 147 attacks in 2014 to 351 attacks in 2017 according to the Evangelical Fellowship of India.

05/24/2018 India (World Watch Monitor) – The Archbishop of Delhi’s call for a ‘prayer campaign’ in India, ahead of next year’s elections has been criticized by the governing party.

In a circular to all Catholic churches in the capital, dated 8 May, Archbishop Anil Couto asked for a weekly day of fasting “for the nation”, Indian broadcaster NDTV reported.

“We are witnessing a turbulent political atmosphere which poses a threat to the democratic principles enshrined in our constitution and the secular fabric of our nation,” the Archbishop wrote in his letter.

Leaders of the governing Bharatiya Janata Party and its militant wing, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), criticized the bishop’s letter.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who admitted he had not seen the letter, said “minorities are safe” in the country, and that “no one is allowed to discriminate on the basis of caste or religion”, according to the Hindustan Times.

“This is a direct attack by the Church on Indian secularism and democracy…,” RSS leader Rakesh Sinha told news agency ANI, adding it was “a direct intervention by the Vatican as these Bishops are appointed by the Pope. Their accountability is not to India but to the Pope,” Sinha said.

In a tweet he suggested that under Prime Minister Modi’s government, the Church and NGOs had received less money “to use for religious conversions” and this was part of their campaign for another government.

Archbishop Couto denied any political motive. “We have only asked our churches to spend one day a week to pray and it’s a private matter and no one can interfere with it”, he also told Indian news network News18.

“We are concerned with atmosphere, issues plaguing the country. It’s only a request from various people to pray for the country,” he said.

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