Christians and other religious minorities in India are on edge after a nationalist Hindu party won a massive landslide victory in recent national elections. Incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi won a second-term in office following a marathon election in the world’s largest democracy. Official data also showed Modi’s BJP party winning 303 of the 542 seats in parliament, up from 282 it had won five years ago. Christians have suffered intense levels of persecution under Modi’s first five years in office and they fear the next five years could bring even more hardships.
“The number one issue in this election for Christians is safety,” Dr. Paul R.T. Maran, National Bishop of the Indian National Apostolic Deices told the human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) prior to the elections. “This election is like a ‘do or die’ situation. If the BJP comes to power, Christians won’t be treated as equal citizens because their aim is to establish a Hindu India.” ICC cites the Evangelical Fellowship of India, which says violent attacks on the Christian community in India have more than doubled since the BJP came to power. In 2014, there were 147 violent attacks on Christians in India but by 2018 that number had jumped to 325.
The increase is attributed to the BJP’s emphasis on Hindu nationalism that often lead to attacks on minority faiths by Hindu radical groups. Christians are concerned the new government will try to rewrite the constitution, changing India from a secular nation that guarantees religious freedom into a Hindu nation that treats other faiths as second class. Dr. Michael, Former Member of the Delhi Minorities Commission said the church will continue to worship and serve Jesus Christ. “I feel, however, that we have to adopt different approaches to win over the confidence of minorities who are otherwise living in fear of the Hindutva agenda,” he said.
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