Much like the wall hastily built to hide an impoverished neighborhood from President Trump’s view, India wants the president to look the other way when it comes to religious persecution.
A wall won’t hide, however, the overwhelming evidence that India’s religious minorities are under assault. India, like the United States, is a vibrant democracy with constitutional protections for the religious freedom of its 1.3 billion citizens. In recent years, those protections have started to look like empty promises. Worse still, Prime Minister Modi’s government appears determined to hide the facts on the ground.
India is a geostrategic ally to the United States, an economic power consistently working to advance U.S. interests while helping to counter China’s dominance in the region. A new trade deal, which is reportedly on the table for the visit, might provide serious economic benefits to both countries. There’s just one issue: India’s record on religious liberty shows it is not willing to comply with international laws on human rights, making any deal a risky one.
Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List, which ranks countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, places India at number 10. That’s one rank worse than Syria, a country torn apart by almost nine years of civil war.
For many Christians in India, violence and death threats are common. Open Doors’ carefully conducted research reveals more than 1,500 Indian Christians faced violence or death threats due to their religious beliefs between November 2018 and October 2019 alone. In that same period, at least 295 Christians were detained without trial for faith-related reasons. One of them is American missionary Bryan Nerren, who is currently denied access to his passport after being detained on spurious criminal charges. President Trump has written to Pastor Nerren’s family, but whether he’ll raise the pastor’s case directly with Modi remains to be seen.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, David Curry