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Anti-conversion laws used to wrongfully arrest and abuse Christians

06/02/2022 India (International Christian Concern) – At least 30 Christians in India were imprisoned in May within the state of Uttar Pradesh alone, including 20 in the last week. Authorities justified these arrests by filing charges of forced conversion. In many of these cases, the arrested Christians were victims of other types of persecution.

A grueling incident occurred on May 31 when a mob of radicals broke into the home of a local pastor who was praying with his family. The intruders proceeded to beat him, drag him from home, and assault him before handing him over to the police. The police arrested and imprisoned him and turned a blind eye to the egregious assault against the pastor.

The police filed a First Information Report (FIR), which charged him with deliberate and malicious acts against another religion. The anti-conversion laws adopted in 11 Indian states are often weaponized against Christians, allowing authorities to jail them with little regard for due process.

We have arrived at a critical juncture, where practicing faith of our choice is equated as crime and punished accordingly,” said a local Christian leader, who spoke with ICC about the current crackdown against churches in Uttar Pradesh. “We need to be alert and prepared to face the challenge; almost every pastor and leader is targeted in UP. These are the testing times.

In a separate incident, a group of 7-10 young radicals interrupted a Sunday service on May 29. An eyewitness reported that a group of youths had invaded the community’s church hall, where 40 Christians were praying and worshiping. The radicals began recording videos and harassing the congregation. The mob stole the pastor’s Bible and shoved him to the ground. Again, the police pursued no action against the perpetrators. They instead arrested the church’s pastor and filed a First Information Report against him.

We are scared to even conduct small group prayers even that can be framed as forcible conversions,” a house church pastor told ICC. “Our lives are in danger, as Christian identity could put us behind bars, we don’t see any way out. Only God should intervene.” The rise in persecution in India has been alarming to the Christian community, and many are concerned for the future of Christians in the country.

Jeff King, President of International Christian Concern, said, “India’s anti-conversion laws are not a means to protect religious freedom, but rather a mechanism for the government to oppress and punish religious minorities. Our Indian brothers and sisters are facing increased levels of persecution since the adoption of these laws in 11 states. India claims to be the world’s largest democracy, yet shamelessly violates human rights. We pray for the continued resilience of the Indian Church and for the injustice to come to an end.”