Wednesday, June 1, 2022

RLPB 647. India: Viral Hatred Spreads Through India

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 647 | Wed 01 June 2022
RLPB is published weekly to facilitate strategic intercessory prayer.

View archives at: Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin (RLPB) blog.  

by Elizabeth Kendal

Christians in India, Operation World

Hindu nationalism is not Hinduism, it is politics. Formulated in the early 1900's to rally Hindus for revolution against colonial rule, today it is used to rally Hindus to vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) [RLM, 4 Nov 2015]. According to Hindu nationalist ideology, Indians are those who belong to the 'Hindu race' and recognise 'Hindustan' as both their fatherland and holy-land. In practice, this leads to religious apartheid where vulnerable minority Christians exist as second-class citizens. To dragnet the majority vote and divide the opposition, Hindu nationalists vilify minority Christians as a threat to families, communities and social cohesion, and then posit the anti-conversion BJP as the only solution. In playing the religion card for political gain, Hindu nationalists are creating division, fuelling hatred, and shredding the fabric of Indian society [see EFI Yearly Report 2021]. As The Atlantic reports (27 May 2022): 'Attacks on Christians have been rising steadily since 2014 [RLM, 23 July 2014], and 2021 was the most violent year on record for the community.' The article notes that unconstitutional anti-conversion laws have fuelled hatred and enabled many arrests, although none has culminated in conviction. 'But,' it explains, 'if the real purpose of the harassment is to intimidate members of a religious minority, it has already had its desired effect.'

UTTAR PRADESH (north India; Christians: 0.1 - 0.3 percent). The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020 came into effect on 27 November 2020 [RLPB 582 (27 Jan 2021)]. Within nine months (to 31 August 2021), 257 people had been named in 108 cases. While most cases were of Muslim men who had married Hindu women, Christian too are under extreme pressure, mostly on the issue of religious conversions. International Christian Concern reports (16 May): 'Last week, authorities in the Basti district of Uttar Pradesh summoned several pastors to the police station. The officers instructed the pastors to cease all religious activities including house-church gatherings in the district unless obtaining prior permission from the District Magistrate. Failing to do so would result in the pastors being sent to jail on conversion charges ... The police drafted a letter on behalf of the pastors, stating that they would cease all religious activity, then forced them to sign.'

Bajrang Dal accost Pastor Kuriyachan
and his wife, Selenamma, in Kodagu District,
17 May 2022 (image source TNIE).

KARNATAKA (south-west India; Christians: 1.9 - 4.0 percent). On 17 May, Karnataka's BJP-led state government enacted The Karnataka Freedom of Religion Bill 2021 by ordinance with the signature of the state governor [RLPB 646 (25 May 2022)]. Before the governor's signature was dry on the page, Hindu nationalist activists from the Bajrang Dal had found their first victims. Pastor V Kuriyachan (62) and his wife, Selenamma (57), minister to poor tribals who labour in the coffee estates of Karnataka's south-western Kodagu district. After receiving a 'tip-off' that the couple were praying with a tribal labourer, a mob of patrolling Bajrang Dal raced to the scene, caught them 'red-handed' and called the police. Video subsequently emerged - seen by Hindustan Times (19 May) - showing 'right-wing group [Bajrang Dal] members "forcing" the labourer of Manchalli village, Kodagu, to file a complaint against the pastor for conversion'. Pastor Kuriyachan and Selenamma were remanded in 14 days' judicial custody pending an investigation. If found guilty under The Karnataka Freedom of Religion Bill, they could face three to ten years in prison.

Pastor Domnic preaching in English as
wife Joan translates, Sunday 22 May 2022.

GOA (a former Portuguese colony on India's west coast; Christians: 26.7 (census) - 41.5 percent (Operation World 2010), virtually all Roman Catholic). On Thursday 26 May police arrested Pastor Domnic D'Souza of the Five Pillar Church in Sodiem village, north Goa. He was arrested along with his wife, Joan, and some unknown associates for allegedly luring people to convert to Christianity, after two complaints were issued against him. Hindus and Catholics have long complained about Pastor Domnic's ministry, specifically his use of loudspeakers, the traffic congestion around his church and the conversions that allegedly disturb social cohesion. Goa does not have an anti-conversion law, so Pastor Domnic has been booked under the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisement) Act for allegedly using magic to heal and convert people. The fact that one gravely ill person died after being anointed with oil and prayed over (as per James 5:14) supposedly confirms that Pastor Domnic's ministry is fraudulent and hurtful. After his arrest, Pastor Domnic was hospitalised with high blood pressure. The accused couple have been released on bail and will face a local court on Friday 3 June, where police will seek their custody while an investigation is undertaken. On Saturday 28 May Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said luring people to change their religion would not be tolerated in Goa. He proposed that the government might introduce anti-conversion legislation in the month-long monsoon session of the assembly beginning on 11 July, to prevent religious conversions.


* comfort, encourage, sustain and guide the pastors threatened in Basti District, Uttar Pradesh, Pastor Kuriyachan and his wife Selenamma, arrested in Karnataka, and Pastor Domnic and his wife, Joan, arrested in Goa. May the Lord provide all their needs, be they emotional, spiritual, physical or material.

'And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."'
(Matthew 28:18-20 ESV emphasis mine).

* intervene in power in Hindu India to 'bind the strong man' [Satan] who is holding the nation captive to lies that lead to death, while keeping the people ignorant of the truth that leads to life.

'How can someone enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house' (Jesus, in Matthew 12:29 ESV).

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12 ESV).

* redeem the hardships, sufferings and trials of India's persecuted Christians, to bring glory to God and awakening and salvation to many.


India's unconstitutional anti-conversion laws fuel anti-Christian hatred, discrimination and persecution. In recent weeks, pastors in Uttar Pradesh's Basti District were warned to cease all religious activities or face jail under the state's anti-conversion law. In Karnataka, the same day anti-conversion legislation was enacted, Hindu nationalist activists pounced on Pastor Kuriyachan and his wife, Selenamma, who minister to poor tribal labourers in the coffee estates of Kodagu district. The couple have been arrested and if found guilty face three to ten years in prison. In Goa, which does not yet have an anti-conversion law, Pastor Domnic and his wife, Joan, who lead a growing independent Protestant church in north Goa, were arrested after two complaints were made against them. Now Goa's Chief Minister wants anti-conversion legislation introduced in Goa. Please pray.


Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate.

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).

She is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology, and has previously served with the World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission and Christian Faith and Freedom (Canberra).