Yesterday, the New York Times reported on the rise of anti-Christian mobs in India. The mobs routinely use “anti-conversion” laws as an excuse to beat and jail Christians. These violent attacks are sometimes carried out with the help of local government officials:
Anti-Christian vigilantes are sweeping through villages, storming churches, burning Christian literature, attacking schools and assaulting worshipers. In many cases, the police and members of India’s governing party are helping them, government documents and dozens of interviews revealed. In church after church, the very act of worship has become dangerous despite constitutional protections for freedom of religion.
To many Hindu extremists, the attacks are justified — a means of preventing religious conversions. To them, the possibility that some Indians, even a relatively small number, would reject Hinduism for Christianity is a threat to their dream of turning India into a pure Hindu nation. Many Christians have become so frightened that they try to pass as Hindu to protect themselves…
“Christians are being suppressed, discriminated against and persecuted at rising levels like never before in India,” said Matias Perttula, the advocacy director at International Christian Concern, a leading anti-persecution group. “And the attackers run free, every time.”
The mob activities are being organized on social media by members of India’s ruling party, the B.J.P. A member of one of these groups claimed there were 5,000 members who regularly organized raids on Christian churches. When the police finally show up, they typically arrest the Christian pastors, not the hooligans forcing their way into the churches. It’s rare that anyone in a mob faces any kind of accountability.
B.J.P. comrades in the neighboring state of Chhattisgarh recently conducted several anti-Christian marches during which they belted out: “Converters! Let’s beat them with shoes!” In September, they did exactly that: A throng of young B.J.P. workers from the same chapter barged into a Chhattisgarh police station and hurled shoes at two pastors and beat them up — right in front of police officers.
“I slapped that pastor five or six times,” bragged Rahul Rao, a 34-year-old contractor and officer holder of the B.J.P. youth cell. “It was immensely satisfying.”…
A recently leaked letter, from a top police official in Chhattisgarh to his underlings, reads: “Keep a constant vigil on the activities of Christian missionaries.”
In some cases the Hindu majority uses more subtle pressure to force conversions to Hinduism, such as warning they won’t be able to buy anything at the local market unless they convert to Hinduism. Asked to justify this conduct, a BJP member told the Times, “If we didn’t intervene, they would have converted this whole area by now.”