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INDIA: NEEDS A BREAKTHROUGH AGAINST HINDUTVA
-- by Elizabeth Kendal
India's 2019 general election -- in which some 900 million eligible voters will elect the 17th Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) -- will be conducted in seven phases from 11 April to 19 May. The Lok Sabha has 543 elected seats, and the party or coalition that holds a 272-seat majority selects the prime minister. Votes will be collated and the results announced on 23 May.
As a polytheistic religion, Hinduism has never been especially hostile to Christianity, seeing Jesus as just another god among many. Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) on the other hand, is more political than religious. In seeking to unite Indians as Hindus it presents Christianity as foreign and a threat to national security and social cohesion. Wherever Hindu nationalism advances, communalism and violent persecution of Christians escalates.
|Indian PM Narenda Modi|
As prime minister, Narendra Modi has advanced Hindutva by putting Hindutva ideologues in positions of influence in politics, education (including universities), research institutes, state-owned businesses and banks, as well as through the police, the army and the judiciary. Meanwhile, Hindutva is making headway through the tribal belt and even through north-east India by means of the Ekal Vidyalaya school network. Ekal Vidyalaya schools offer five years of free education and are affiliated with the Hindu nationalist Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and its parent body the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). It is unsurprising therefore that they have been criticised for stoking communalism and spreading hatred, especially towards Christians. It is also unsurprising that they are targeting areas where Christianity has either long been established or is growing. Hindutva forces are also exploiting the issue of illegal mass immigration of Bengali Muslims to stoke a dangerous fire of Hindu nationalism in the northeastern state of Assam, a fire which threatens to burn Christians as much as Muslims.
|concentration of Christians based on 2011 census|
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT
* God will raise up voices of integrity and influence that will repudiate Hindu nationalism's highly seductive narrative and present Indians with a better way.
* Jesus Christ will continue to build his Church in India, a Church which is growing, especially among the nation's poor and long-oppressed Dalits (untouchables) and despite escalating persecution.
* the Holy Spirit will provide the Church with 'wisdom and understanding' for a strategy to reach the powerful and prosperous, highly resistant Brahmin caste (priestly caste, the highest caste in the Hindu world, and consequently the most resistant to egalitarian Christianity). '... may [you] be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding ...' (from Colossians 1:9-12). May the LORD effect a breakthrough.
* God himself will fight for India (Exodus 14:14) for the sake of his threatened, persecuted Church and for the sake of India's many millions who desperately need to hear the Gospel.
SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
INDIA NEEDS A BREAKTHROUGH AGAINST HINDU NATIONALISM
India's 2019 general election will take place in seven phases from 11 April to 19 May. The new parliament will be announced on 23 May. The Hindu nationalist BJP has ruled with a simple majority for the past five years. Its electoral success is the culmination of decades of strategic advance by highly organised Hindu nationalist forces. Hindu nationalism exploits religion for political gain. It seeks to unite Indians as Hindus and is deeply hostile to Christianity, which it demonises as a threat to national security and social cohesion. Wherever Hindu nationalism advances, communalism and violent persecution of Christians escalates. Hindu nationalism is even making headway in areas where Christianity has long been established and/or growing. Please pray for the Church in India and for a breakthrough against Hindu nationalism.
She has authored two books: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016).