Last year India was listed at number 15 on the World Watch List of the 50 most difficult countries for Christians to live in. In 2017, the country has seen nearly as many attacks against Christians so far as in all of 2016.
An article on World Watch Monitor traces the source of the problem to a policy known as “Hindunisation” that it attributes to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) a Hindu nationalist organization pushing Hindu values and a conservative agenda.
Although the current ruling party of India, the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), outwardly supports secularism and unity, World Watch reports it is a center-right party built as the political wing of the RSS.
The article describes a five-step process Hindu extremists used to “bring Christians home”:
1. The pastor is chased out of the community. Church members are not allowed to contact him or leave their village to worship with other Christians.
2. Extremists prevent Christians from participating in society. They are not allowed to hold a government job, trade, draw water from the well, buy food and other products from local stores or even talk to other people in the village.
3. Physical violence. Families are threatened, Christians are beaten up, girls and women may be raped, children may be kidnapped.
4. At some point, the Hindu priest will come to indoctrinate the Christians to remind them that they were born as Hindus and persuade them to come back to the religion of their community.
5. If they still resist, they are often forcibly taken from their home, pushed into a Hindu procession and dragged to a temple, where they have to bow to idols, recite scripture and are often smeared with cow dung and/or cow urine (to “cleanse” them).
India’s Christians have lobbied Prime Minister Modi to bring in a new law to stop targeted violence against religious minorities. The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), which represents 14 million Protestant and Orthodox Christians, said in an open letter to Mr. Modi that they are “exasperated” that “state and central governments are not taking severe action against the different expressions of vigilantism,” adding that “mere words of condemnation are not enough.”