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India: Conversion, Persecution & Discrimination

April 5, 2006

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - No. 372 - Wed 05 Apr 2006

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INDIA: CONVERSION, PERSECUTION & DISCRIMINATION
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Since their defeat in the May 2002 federal elections, India\'s Sangh
Parivar (SP: Hindu nationalists) have been on the offensive to
restore to power their political arm, the Bhartiya Janata Party
(BJP). The SP\'s strategy involves a two-pronged aggressive
campaign: to convert India\'s traditionally animist indigenous
tribal populations to militant Hindu nationalism, and to destroy
the SP\'s main threat - Christians and Christian missions. If all
goes to plan, the BJP will be returned to power with a
parliamentary majority in the next federal election in 2009. Then
with the aid of Hindu militants the BJP would implement the SP\'s
national agenda: establishing a Hindu fascist nation. Conversion of
tribals and persecution of Christians was the dual purpose of the
recent Shabri Kumbh Mela in Dangs, Gujarat. This is also the aim of
the \'Dharma Jogna\' to be held in Orissa 8-10 April.

Emmanuel Mission International (EMI) is a significant Christian
ministry that operates churches, health services, orphanages,
schools and a Bible College. EMI has been targeted for destruction
by Hindu nationalists in the BJP-ruled state of Rajasthan (see RLP
370). EMI\'s president, Rev Dr Samuel Thomas, was arrested on 16
March and remanded in police custody for interrogation for five
days. His detention has subsequently been extended twice. He was
refused bail and is currently on remand in the Central Jail at Kota
district, Rajasthan, until Monday 10 April. He is in an isolated
cell because Hindu extremists in the prison were plotting to attack
him. Two other EMI workers, EMI administrator VS Thomas and EMI
Bible College student Vikram Kindo, are also in prison having been
refused bail. Sources have told Compass Direct that Hindu
extremists plan to falsely implicate Dr Thomas in illegal drug
trading if he is bailed on the religious charge. Hindu extremists
have offered a reward of US$26,000 for his head and that of his
father, EMI founder, Archbishop MA Thomas. The state government has
frozen all EMI\'s funds.

Sixty per cent to seventy per cent of India\'s 25 million Christians
are Dalits (\'untouchables\'). Dalits live with crippling,
dehumanising caste discrimination which entrenches them in poverty.
To address their historic disadvantage, the government grants
Dalits a Scheduled Caste status and so benefit from affirmative
action. However Dalit Christians (and Muslims) are excluded from
this right purely on religious grounds. On 5 April the Supreme
Court will hear the final arguments for and against equal rights
for Dalit Christians. The Court is also waiting for a report due
the end of April from the government\'s National Commission for
Religious and Linguistic Minorities which has been visiting the
states and collecting information on the issue. According to Dr
Joseph D\'souza, International President of the Dalit Freedom
Network, inside sources say the government commission is not likely
to be in favour of Christian Dalits getting their due rights under
the Constitution.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR GOD TO:

* intervene in the \'Dharma Jogna\' in Orissa this weekend to
protect Christians and \'frustrate the plans of the wicked\'.
(Psalm 146:9 NLT)

* protect Rev Dr Samuel Thomas and Archbishop MA Thomas whose lives
are in great danger.

* supply the needs of all the EMI ministries suffering through the
freezing of their funds; may God himself provide and care for the
thousands of believers and poor who are affected, especially the
sick and the orphans. \'The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not
want.\' (Psalm 23:1 ESV)

* raise up Indian voices for justice, equality and religious
liberty, in the media, in the judiciary, in academia, in
business, and in politics.

* give Prime Minister Manmohan Singh divine insight, strength and
courage to lead India according to justice, fairness, and the
will of God.

* work through India\'s Supreme Court, so that religious
discrimination may be eliminated and Dalit Christians may have
equal rights.

The Lord said about Cyrus, \'He ... will accomplish all that I
please.\' (Isaiah 44:28), and \'I will strengthen you [Cyrus], though
you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun
to the place of its setting men may know there is none beside me.\'
(Isaiah 45:5b,6a NIV)

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SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE:
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CONVERSION, PERSECUTION & DISCRIMINATION IN INDIA

India\'s Hindu nationalists are working hard to return their
political arm, the BJP, to power in the next federal election in
2009. They are aggressively targeting India\'s traditionally animist
tribal populations for conversion to militant Hindu nationalism,
simply for political gain. A mass conversion campaign will be held
8-10 April in Orissa. The Hindu nationalists are also targeting
Christians and Christian missions whom they perceive to be their
greatest threat. Thus Emmanuel Mission International is being
severely persecuted. Some 60% to 70% of India\'s 25 million
Christians are Dalits (\'untouchables\') and are marginalised in
poverty by appalling discrimination: as a \'scheduled caste\' Dalits
qualify for affirmative action - unless they are Christians (or
Muslims). The Supreme Court will be ruling soon for or against
their equal rights. Please pray for God to bless India.

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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this
RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray
specifically and regularly for religious liberty
issues, and in particular to uphold the Church
where it is suffering persecution.

RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.