Posters for Campaigns for General Elections 2019
Indian Christians are worried the election results in the world’s second-most populous country will mean more brutal persecution. Here’s why.
The results from the world’s biggest election in history are in: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has won a landslide victory, keeping Modi in power for another five-year term.
More that 600 million people voted in the election over the last six weeks. And they have awarded the BJP with even greater control of India’s government, likely ensuring the continuation of Modi’s hardline Hindu nationalism policies.
PERSECUTION VIOLENCE UNDER MODI RULE
Since Modi came to power in 2014, India has risen from number 28 to number 10 on Open Doors’ World Watch List, the annual list that measures the 50 places around the world where it’s hardest to follow Jesus.
Under his leadership, Hindu nationalist attacks against Christians have risen, believers are given fewer rights in some areas and the government is frequently accused of turning a blind eye to brutal attacks against religious minorities like Christians.
Open Doors’ local partners recorded 147 incidents of violence against Christians in India in 2014, but they have recorded 216 violent incidents in India in the first quarter of 2019 alone, including two murders. These are just the incidents that Open Doors’ local partners have been told about; it is likely that many other incidents have gone unreported.
It is an increasingly worrying time for Christians in India. Over the last five years they have experienced a significant level of violence, discrimination and intolerance against them. We hope that this second BJP victory will not be a mandate for increased persecution but will instead be an opportunity to heal the increasing divides in India.
INDIAN CHURCH LEADERS: ‘WE TRUST THE LORD IS IN CONTROL’
While many Christians in India are disappointed to see the BJP remain in power, one church leader told Open Doors partners, “Most mature Christians are talking about God’s will. During these times, we believe what Proverbs 16:33 says: ‘The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.’ And we also meditate on Proverbs 21:1, which says, ‘In the LORD’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him.’”
“I don’t support any party and have peace believing Romans 8:28,” another Indian believer says, “which says ‘In all things God works for the good of those who love Him.’”
“We are not happy or sad,” an Indian church partner says. “We trust the Lord is in control and He will help us through it all. Most of the Indians are happy that Modi is back. They believe he will bring about change. Some Christians are discouraged, yes, but they have also been preparing for this to happen. It is also true that neither Congress nor other parties work for the welfare of Christians. We would have faced opposition anyhow. So, we instead prepare ourselves to face what God has prepared for us.”
‘WE NEED THE SUPPORT OF THE GLOBAL CHURCH’
“It seems that at the moment nobody can beat the BJP in the elections,” says Pastor Samuel*, another church leader in India. “We hope and pray the international community will engage with the Indian government. It is possible that the Indian laws and even clauses in the constitution will be altered in this tenure, giving the government more tools to persecute minorities.”
More importantly, Pastor Samuel reminds Christians outside of India that their Indian brothers and sisters need them. “Indian Christians need the encouragement and support of the global Church,” he says.
In partnership with local churches in India, Open Doors provides emergency aid, training, Bibles, advocacy support, and legal seminars to people who have suffered persecution.
HOW YOU CAN PRAY FOR OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS
As you go about your day and week, remember your Christian family in India as they grapple with their continued political reality—especially as they know this government will last for five years. “Please pray for our government,” one partner says. Here are other ways this partner tells us we can pray for our Indian brothers and sisters:
- Pray that this government lead wisely.
- India is a country rich in diversity, like a garden with many different flowers. Pray that we will live in harmony.
- Pray for the Christians, that they will faithfully pray for their government and country and that they will be accepted by the people around them.
*Name has been changed for security reasons