Witney, England – Being arrested is becoming a regular occurrence for pastors in India on the back of growing religious nationalism, warns Christian charity Open Doors.
The charity says that more and more pastors in the country face arrest and detention on charges of breaking anti-conversion laws. For many of them it is now ‘part of the job’.
Pastors are being arrested and detained for using ‘fraudulent means’ to convert people to Christianity.
Those who are arrested are seldom convicted, however they are left ostracised and struggling to find work – sometimes for years at a time.
“Because most Christians are never convicted their punishment is never over,” said Asia communications director at Open Doors International Jan Vermeer.
“What happens is, you are arrested, mistreated, held in jail, finally charged and released on bail.
“Anti-conversion laws are often used to discriminate against religious minorities, including Christians and Muslims.
“Christians are often accused of forcibly converting people when they are simply carrying out the normal practices of their faith, such as holding a prayer meeting or even singing Christmas carols.
“Your hearing will be scheduled, you show up, wait for two hours and then hear it has been postponed. This can go on for years.”
It took one church leader, Gaurav*, three years to clear his name in court.
“Meanwhile I had no proper job,” he said. “I was viewed as a criminal by my community and no one wanted to associate with me.
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SOURCE: Assist News Service