As Indian Prime Minister Modi addressed the US Congress on June 8, Jubilee Campaign took part in one of the most effective activities to fight against injustice: prayer. Executive Director Ann Buwalda and Jubilee Campaign staff participated in a prayer vigil in the capital that was held to bring awareness to the plight of Christians in India and pray on their behalf. Many concerned persons and organizations attended the event.
Ms. Buwalda addressed the participants of the vigil and explained the deterioration of religious freedom that has occurred under Prime Minister Modi’s governance. She specifically noted the growth of Hindu extremism that has taken place in the recent past. Hindu extremists have increasingly threatened Christians. Extremists often force them to stop their Christian activities and even renounce their faith. Organized campaigns called ghar wapsi are held to try and force those who have left the Hindu faith to reconvert to Hinduism. Christians are harassed and abused if they do not comply.
As we previously reported, religious minorities such as Christians in India receive little to no protection to practice their faith. Though federal law holds certain protections for minorities, these laws are often not implemented at the local level. It is well known that local authorities tend to take advantage of the law and discriminate against non-Buddhists.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is led by Prime Minister Modi does not do a good job of promoting tolerance in the country because it advances its adherence to the ideology of “Hinduness.” BJP members are even the ones who lead the ghar wapsi campaigns.
A continuing concern for Chrisitans in India is the passing of “anti-conversion laws.” Modi has allowed for many states in India to pass laws protecting against forced conversions. The issue with these laws is that they have not been used to stop people from being forced back to Hinduism, such as occurs in the ghar wapsi, but instead have many times been used as a mechanism to target the activities of Christians. There have been various reports of Christians who are arrested for sharing their faith, even though they are not forcing anyone to accept it.
Because of the continued persecution that is taking place in India, Jubilee Campaign will be submitting a report to the United Nations this year as part of their Universal Periodic Review, which analyzes the condition of human rights in each country. Our report to the UN will bring attention to the discrimination and persecution Christians have faced under Modi’s rule and give specific recommendations on how the country can improve its human rights record.