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01/09/2019 India (International Christian Concern) – Since 2014, Christian persecution and religious intolerance have been on the rise in India. Much of this has been attributed to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which has overseen a national government accused of giving radical Hindu nationalists a free hand.

Founded on a Hindu nationalist ideology, the BJP’s rise to national power encouraged Hindu radicals to take action against religious minorities. In addition to this implicit encouragement, anti-minority hate speeches and discriminatory laws passed by BJP-led governments further encouraged the activities of radicals.

According to the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), the number of violent anti-Christian incidents more than doubled under BJP rule. In 2014, they year the BJP rose to power, EFI documented 144 cases of anti-Christian violence across India. In 2017, after three years of BJP rule, EFI documented 351 cases of anti-Christian violence.

This trend of increasing violence seemed set to continue as the BJP went from success to success in India’s state election. That was until November 2018. In November 2018, the BJP was roundly defeated in the Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, and Telangana state elections.

The results of these five state elections came as a massive relief for Christians and other religious minorities in India. “This is great news,” Bishop Jeswant Rana, a Christian leader from Rajasthan, told International Christian Concern. “In these states, Christians suffered a lot. In these states, the BJP tried to experiment with its Hindutva ideology. With this change, we hope the government will treat everyone equally.

These election results have many Christians hopeful for a more peaceful 2019. If the BJP loses more political ground in the 2019 national elections, will this bring a more secular and tolerant government to power? Only time will tell.

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