Is There Christian Persecution in India?

Persecution is an ugly word. According to my online dictionary, it means “hostility or maltreatment, esp because of race or political or religious beliefs.”

That sounds simple enough. But, as usual, when you add politics and questions of power to the discussion, simplicity flies away. Political definitions, especially when they are trying to obscure reality, quickly become something too complicated for ordinary mortals to either understand or take action against.

Persecution, in the hands of politicians, becomes a tiny target that almost no one except the few that the politicians have decided (usually for reasons other than the persecution itself) they want to help. The reason for this is that slippery words like persecution are problems for politicians who hold the responsibility for nations and organizations in their hands.

If the definition of persecution is too easy, then they will find themselves faced with a moral responsibility to act, and actions from political units always mean committing the resources, and sometimes the lives, of their citizenry. Any good government takes care of its own people first. No head of state, either secular or religious, wants his or her options for governance directed by open-ended definitions of words like “persecution.”

This isn’t hubris. It’s necessity. Heads of state have been entrusted with the lives and well-being of their citizens. They cannot commit them wily-nily to the righting of every wrong there is. In the first place, righting every wrong is a practical impossibility. There too many wrongs for any one entity to right, even if that entity is a government. Also,  evil and cruelty are hydra-headed. Chop off one evil and two more grow in its place.

Governments are very careful about what they chose to call persecution because persecution is a loaded word that demands a morale response and moral responses lead to demands for action. Actions by government, any government, are big moves that result in endless ripples of effect that can not be either controlled or predicted.

Governments shy away from easy access to their power through words like “persecution.” They create nuances and artificial qualifications in their definitions of the word that force almost all the people who suffer real-life persecution, sometimes even to the death, outside of its meaning.

In this way, they can excuse themselves from becoming ensnared in demands for action against the hydra-headed monster of persecution of innocent people that flares continuously around the globe.

What becomes problematic in this is that they also can try to stop the rest of us from acknowledging the truth of what’s happening, as well. A lot of governments are more afraid of their own people than anything else. The more oppressive a government is, the more this is true.

They do not want their citizens going off and naming persecution as what it is because they fear what might happen if this catches on in the popular imagination. They are afraid of having to act and they fear that people who call things for what they are might involve enough other citizens in their concerns that the demands for action will get out of hand.

This critical balance between necessary government conservatism about committing itself and its citizens to causes, fights, wars and troubles that are not its own, and the clear-cut facts of merciless situations leads to almost laughable twisting and turning of language. People use the tools at their disposal, and government has legal definitions of things at its disposal.

Government can create any definition of any thing that it wants. It can call the mass murder of millions a “final solution.” It can define medical murder as “death with dignity.” It can write definitions with such pinpoint specificity that no one except those it wants to let in will fall under those definitions.

I believe that is what has happened to the word “persecution.” So many people are suffering and dying all around the globe that no government, no entity, can hope to respond to it. If any one government tries, it will end up exhausting its resources and accomplishing nothing.

This is not evil. It is necessity. It is responsible care-taking of the people whose lives are in a specific government’s hands.

However, that does not oblige you and me to go along with these pin-point definitions of persecution which defy common sense and rational thought. We are free to look at reality as it is, without the varnish of legalese. We do not have to accede our personal vision to the blinders that government wears. We can look at things as they are.

Is there Christian persecution in India? Unless a lot of sources from a lot of places are all colluding in a massive confabulation, the answer is yes.

Here are two videos I found on YouTube. The second one is an actual video of an attack on Christians which resulted in their deaths. So be warned, it’s hard to watch and not for everyone, especially children.

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  • Dale

    I did not watch the videos. In part, I made this decision because I am averse to watching real life violence (and not doing anything to help.)

    However, the primary reason is that I have seen numerous news reports during the past few years which indicates that Hindu nationalists are committing religious persecution. This is directed not simply against Christians, but against Muslims too. It sometimes affects other religious minorities.

    The reasons are varied, as are the attacks. Typically, groups of Hindu nationalists become angry about a perceived offense and lash out as a form of retribution. An ongoing source of tension is the conversion of Dalits (what we in the West used to call Untouchables) to either Islam or Christianity. However, there are other motivations as well.

    Attacks may be against individual believers, or clergy/religious. Attacks may be against churches or shrines or monasteries. Attacks may be against entire villages. But the attacks have been ongoing and documented by multiple news outlets.

  • Biblis Vox

    There is severe persecution in some states of non-Hindus (as the person above states) – and some horrible pogroms have taken place targeting Muslims and Christians. Hindu nationalism (to be Indian is to be Hindu, implying non-Hindus are something ‘other’) is a main component of the ideology of the BJP, one of the two main parties (not ruling nationally at the moment, but heading some states), which has been behind anti-conversion laws, which specifically target Christians, and whose linked paramilitary groups like the RSS, are behind much of the violence. However, you’d be shocked at their influence in Washington (and other major centers of power, like the EU) where they’ve carried out an extremely effective lobbying campaign. I had a Republican member of Congress, who also happens to be a Christian and a supporter of religious freedom, try to tell me the BJP, was the party of Reagan in India… which is how they are selling themselves these days. I tried to put him straight, but was told by another person, who works actively on religious freedom in Congress, that any attempt to highlight abuses of religious, including persecution, in India is a non-starter… no one, not even the members of the International Religious Freedom Caucus, will touch it… because India is our democratic ally in the region and we can’t risk upsetting them. Tragic.

  • kiran

    christians comes infront of our temples and abuse our gods. do u expect us to sit and smile?other than this we Hindus have no problem with stop ur evil tactics of conversion and this will never happen.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Kiran, I waited to see if someone would offer a useful response to this, but no one has so I’ll try.
      First, what you are advocating is cold-blooded murder.
      Second, all people everywhere have a right to choose their own faith or lack of it based on the dictates of their understanding and conscience.
      The idea that people should be murdered in cold blood or subjected to violent (or even non-violent) persecution and discrimination for exercising this right is anathema.
      I do want to thank you for demonstrating the mindset of someone who is trying to justify the violent persecution of other human beings. It makes for interesting and thought-provoking reading.

      • pagansister

        Unfortunately, Rebecca, if Kiran is an example of the thought process of those carrying out the murders, no one is safe from attack should they be Christian.

    • Dale

      Kiran, thank you for joining us here. I hope we can discuss these matters with respect and tolerance for our differing viewpoints.

      I understand that there is anger regarding the conversions, but I do not understand why the response requires violence. Is force truly necessary? Could Hindus offer encouragement so that persons would not be interested in converting?

  • kiran

    and by the way, christians are 2% of orissas population.not 27% as mentioned in the video.

    • Dale

      Yes, I think the video misstated the percentage of Christians in the state of Orissa. I think the 27% figure might refer to the Kandhamal district of Orissa. In Kandhamal, the percentage of Christians is quite large, and conversions have been a source of violence.

  • pagansister

    This is an example of extremists of a faith giving all of those that belong to that faith a “bad name” and /or a “bad reputation.” I do not believe all Hindus would condone this type of behavior—any more than I believe that all Muslims what to kill all Americans etc.

  • Beeg Noyz

    Christian population of India has its roots in this soil. They are not dropped from sky or had plane crash or shipwreck while going from one unknown land to another land. Their destiny is interlinked with this land and with the local
    populations. I think they are fortunate that they are born in country India (unlike
    those unfortunate ones in neighboring countries like Pakistan) where they have
    the guarantee of equal rights, and can prosper equally if not better. The
    example is the present Defense Minister (Anthony, Ranked very highly in the
    central govt) and the air chief (Norman Anil Browne) , both holding the respective
    very sensitive positions in country’s defense simultaneously. It is the proof
    that community is believed and depended upon. No mean feat ! And this is just
    the tip of the iceberg. It is beyond doubt that extremely large populations
    from this community is doing extremely well in all sectors of national life. No
    doubt there would always be jostling between communities in various aspects for
    space and there would always be fishing in the trouble waters by all kinds of vested interest. But the community is being generally law abiding and conscientious, need to try to be MAGNANIMOUS in attitude and leave aside things that can be FORGIVEN and come out of perennial persecution mentality and carry on with new vigor and also love and respect for his fellow being. After all that is meaning of being here in this world with gratitude and joy for all the good things from above, instead of whining and complaining for things that are in the hands of Almighty.Was not suffering a history through ages , and what is new ?

  • Miguel

    I’m a Christian who grew up in India. The Hindus here are EXTREMELY anti-Christian and anti-Western. I’m grateful to God that the truth is now slowly becoming common knowledge to the rest of the world. They persecute Christians terribly here despite the vast amount of help offered by Christians to poor, lower caste Hindus. God forgive them.

    • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

      It’s not “despite”. It’s “because”. Christians are giving Dalits hope in all sorts of ways, when Hinduism says that they should be despised and that it is right to to treat them like garbage. So the Hindus – especially of higher castes, but a lot of Dalits buy into their own victimization, alas – find Christian behaviour both vicious and corrupting.

      • Miguel

        Absolutely Fabio – your correction is much appreciated. The thing that surprises me is that most persecution is funded by Hindus who make a living in Western countries. They are the ones who mostly fund right-wing Hindu movements at home yet they preach and deny that this is happening.