Date:                            October 6, 2023

Anti-conversion laws and radical Hindu nationalists hinder religious freedom
10/06/2023 India (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has released a report that outlines worsening religious freedoms for Christians and other religious minorities in India. 

As India recently celebrated its 76th anniversary of its independence on August 15, the country is further from its roots as a secular democracy. Led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a right-wing religious nationalist party, India is moving rapidly to restrict the rights of religious minorities across the country.   
Legally, the rise of anti-conversion laws criminalizes minority religious expression by making it illegal to convert, or try to convert, members of another faith. In practice, Christians and Muslims are the ones charged under these laws. Acts as innocuous as talking about heaven or offering snacks after a church service fall afoul of the laws. 

Other legal barriers, like those barring Christians and Muslims from social welfare schemes, also serve to hinder religious freedom. Socially, Hindu nationalism restricts freedom across India by fueling mob violence against Christians and Muslims.  

ICC’s report considers the recent outbreak of violence against Christians in Chhattisgarh and the ongoing ethnoreligious violence happening in Manipur. Both instances are indicative not only of the state of religious freedom in India but the Indian government’s lackluster response and its refusal to extend substantive protections to religious minorities. 

This report also suggests several policy recommendations to the U.S. government, which has, for decades, taken a soft line with the Indian government on human rights. Its priority, it would seem, is to placate an important geopolitical ally in its fight against growing Chinese global influence. Though the U.S. does highlight India’s religious freedom issues on occasion, it is not consistent in its messaging and has thus far chosen to avoid the most potent tools at its disposal including sanctions. 

To read the full report, click here

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Since 1995, ICC has served the global persecuted church through a three-pronged approach of assistance, advocacy, and awareness. ICC exists to bandage the wounds of persecuted Christians and to build the church in the toughest parts of the world.