PRAYER ALERT: More Indian pastors arrested under conversion law

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Police took in 42 Christians for questioning in Uttar Pradesh at the end of November, according to the Indian press. Twenty-seven pastors were among those interrogated; nine were formally arrested. Police also confiscated large amounts of religious books and laptops.

Twelve of India’s 28 states have now passed anti-conversion laws, and momentum is building to impose a national law across the whole of India. This would limit the freedom of religious minorities, including Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and Sikhs, from sharing their faith.

Police are arresting Christians under a law that is intended to prevent conversion by force, but in practice prevents any Christians from sharing their faith – even though their right to do so is enshrined in the Indian constitution.

‘Pastors have been arrested under false allegations,’ says Release International CEO Paul Robinson. ‘We’ve had reports from witnesses of women and children being terrorised as they returned home from their church meetings. In the worst cases, pastors have been beaten up and a few have been killed.’

UCA News report that nearly 400 Christians have been arrested in the state of Uttar Pradesh since the law was passed three years ago. They say most of the 398 Christians arrested are Protestant pastors and church members.

India’s anti-conversion laws are intended to ban conversion by force or by fraud. However, legislation is vaguely worded and is being applied to relief aid, prayer meetings and any form of evangelism.

Anyone wishing to change their faith must first register with the authorities, which can lead to pressure to remain a Hindu. Official surveys of the Christian community elicit information that could leave Christians vulnerable to further discrimination and attack.

Appeal to help

Release International has launched an appeal to help Christians in India and elsewhere who are being oppressed for their faith. For more details of this appeal and to help Christians suffering violence and oppression, click the button below.

(Sources: The Indian Express; UCA News)