09/23/2020 India (International Christian Concern) – Earlier this week, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led government proposed adding new restrictions to India’s Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment (FCRA). Based on the debate in parliament, an often used anti-Christian conspiracy theory is being used to partially justify the proposed restrictions.
The proposed restrictions would require NGOs to use an Aadhaar card, a biometric electronic document, in order to conduction financial transactions with foreign sources. The government would also be given sweeping power to stop NGOs from using foreign funds by ordering a summary enquiry of the NGO’s finances.
Critics of the new restrictions claim the government is seeking powers to harass NGOs, especially those critical of the current government and those led by religious minorities.
As the proposed restrictions were debated in the Lower House of the Indian Parliament, the Lok Sabha, members of the BJP used an anti-Christian conspiracy theory to justify the government’s actions. These BJP members claimed that foreign funds were being used by Christians to fraudulently convert Hindus to Christianity.
“We know what happened in the Northeast, how things have changed in the last 50 years, and how a particular religion has become prominent,” BJP leader SP Singh said. Singh went on to claim that foreign donations could also be correlated with civil unrest in India’s Northeast.
Hindu nationalists frequently use the specter of fraudulent religious conversions to pass laws and regulations that limit religious freedom. According to these nationalists, Indian Christians are accused of converting poor Hindus to Christianity in mass by fraudulent means. Due to growing religious intolerance, many radical Hindu nationalists view almost all religious conversions to non-Hindu faiths as forced or fraudulent.
However, India’s own population data does not support this conspiracy of mass conversions to Christianity. In 1951, the first census after independence, Christians made up 2.3% of India’s population. According to the 2011 census, the most recent census data available, Christians still make up 2.3% of the population.
While many Christians have been accused of engaging in forced conversions, often by radical Hindu nationalists, no individual has been convicted of forced conversions in India. This is despite the fact that anti-conversion laws have been on the books in some states since 1967.
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