COVID-19 cases surge in South Asia with no slowdown in sight. On Friday, India recorded its highest death toll since the pandemic began. Its coronavirus caseload soared past 200,000 heading into the weekend.
Even so, India’s government began easing restrictions today, allowing some facilities to reopen under new guidelines. Places of worship must restrict attendance, and no “physical offerings” – like communion – are allowed.
“You cannot gather in groups of larger than 20 for a funeral, 50 for a wedding, and for regular services, I think they’ve kept it at 10 or 15,” John Pudaite of Bibles For The World says. “It’s kind of crazy and very, very difficult for our partners on the ground to navigate through this.”
There may be more to India’s strict lockdown than meets the eye, he adds. “Our work spreads across many state boundaries. Travel for our leadership in the field is almost impossible. We’ve been trying to do things with Zoom conferencing but, on the whole, we can see things are really, really being affected,” Pudaite explains.
“[It] makes you wonder, what is the intent here of the government, in terms of trying to restrict the size of the groups that gather together? It affects certain religions more than others.”
Regular communal gatherings are an integral part of India’s minority faiths, like Islam and Christianity. However, “these are not so common in some of the other religions,” Pudaite says, meaning the new rules restrict some faiths more than others.
“It’s being interpreted by some as a ‘backhanded’ form of oppression or persecution of the Christian Church in India.”
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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Katey Hearth
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