What does persecution look like in India?
India is a diverse, democratic country with religious equality enshrined in law – but in 2023, in some states, it's a scary place to be a Christian.
In recent years there has been a big increase in Hindutva, an ideology that believes only Hindus are true Indians, and that Christians, Muslims and other religious minorities have 'foreign' roots and must be expelled. Hindu extremists seem able to attack others with impunity, even using extreme violence in some parts of the country.
Increasing numbers of states are implementing anti-conversion laws, supposedly to stop Hindus being forcibly converted to other religions, but in reality they are often used as an excuse to harass and intimidate Christians who are just doing things like distributing aid or having a private church meeting. These laws do not seem to protect Christians from being coerced back into Hinduism.
Christians increasingly experience social exclusion in their communities, discrimination in the workplace, and have false accusations and rumours spread about them.
The Christians most at risk are those who have come to faith from a Hindu background. In some parts of India, many face constant pressure to return to Hinduism, social exclusion, discrimination at work, physical assaults and are sometimes even killed. Church leaders are particularly vulnerable too; being a pastor is one of the riskiest vocations in the country today. Hindu extremists target them, their wives and children with violent attacks to sow fear in the wider Christian community.
“We are jailed and brutally beaten and tortured, but we stand strong like the prophets of old.”Pastor Shekhar was arrested, tortured and forced from his home in India
What has changed this year?
The situation for Christians in India has not improved in the past year. Violence remains at an extreme level, and Christians still face very high or extreme pressure in all spheres of life. Since the current government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014 (and was re-elected with an even greater mandate in May 2019), pressure on Christians in India has risen dramatically. Hindu radicals can continue their attacks unabated, and the level of impunity is very high.
Open Doors partners strengthen the church in India by providing Bibles, emergency aid, persecution survival training, and livelihood and community development projects.
- Please pray for a change of narrative around Indian identity that accepts minority faiths
- Pray for protection over church leaders and their families
- Pray that converts' genuine faith would have a powerful effect on their families and neighbours.
Dear Lord Jesus, help our persecuted brothers and sisters in India to stand strong in their faith and show Your love and character to their local communities. We pray against the division and hate of Hindutva – may India live up to its ideal as a place of freedom and peace instead. Guard the pastors and their families who risk their lives to serve You, and replace lies and discrimination with truth and justice. Amen.