11/20/2019 India (International Christian Concern) – Kanna Lakshminarayana, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader in India’s Andhra Pradesh state, has falsely accused the state’s Chief Minister, a Christian, of using his political power to increase forced conversions to Christianity. Lakshminarayana also falsely accused the Chief Minister’s government of planning to demolish Hindu temples across the state.
In May 2019, Jaganmohan Reddy, a Christian and leader of the YSR Congress Party, was elected to the office of Chief Minister in Andhra Pradesh. In an attempt to stoke religious divisions for political gain, Lakshminarayana has turned to false accusations often used to harass Christian leaders in India.
Speaking during the inauguration of party offices in Vijayawada, Lakshminarayana said, “Religious conversion have increased since the YSR Congress party took power. And there is no doubt that they are sponsored by the government.”
Lakshminarayana continued by claiming that the current administration plans to “demolish Hindu temples just as the [previous] regime did.”
BJP leaders often use religiously divisive rhetoric to political gain. False claims of mass forced conversations to Christianity are often used to spread distrust of Christians and justify policies that limits the religious freedom of minority communities.
“We condemn the accusation of conversions and sectarian tensions,” Sajan K. George, President of the Global Council of Indian Christians, told Asia News. “Such a charge stokes divisions based on religious identity.”
“According to the 2011 census, the majority of the population of Andhra Pradesh is Hindu (90.87%), followed by Muslims (7.32%) and Christians (1.38%),” George continued. “In fact, the data shows a decline in the number of Christians in the state.”
Unfortunately, false claims, such as those made by Lakshminarayana, are often believed and have led to Christians and other minorities experiencing rising levels of persecution in recent years. According to the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), Christians in India endured 247 violent attacks on their community in just the first eight months of 2019.
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