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Why are extremists attacking Christians in India?

January 23, 2023 by Abigail Hart in Persecution updates

Our Global Christian Relief source on the ground had this to say: “Persecution in India is at all-time high and unacceptable. Government authorities [turn] blind eye and encourage it to make India into a Hindu supremacist radical nation reaching a Hindu form of ISIS. We need to do something before it becomes one.”

But why? Why are extremists attacking Indian Christians and at such a relentless pace?

With so many attacks on Christians, it can be hard to pinpoint an exact reason, especially since the majority of Indians are peaceful, tolerant people. However, after looking at the data, we’ve been able to narrow down the reasons to just a few:

1) Hindutva

Hindutva is an extremist view that states you are only truly Indian if you regard India as both your country and your sacred homeland. For Muslims and Christians, their sacred homeland lies in the Middle East. Because of that, Indians who are Christian or Muslim cannot be seen as fully Indian under the umbrella of Hindutva.

Hindutva brings with it fascist tones and a feeling of superiority over someone else. Indian Christians are seen as less than, and that often comes with severe forms of persecution.

2) Radical anti-conversion laws

Anti-conversion laws were originally implemented in India in the 1930s as a way to prevent “Christianization” and to “preserve Hindu religious identity in the face of British missionaries.” Several of India’s 28 states have adopted and passed anti-conversion laws. Not only that, but these laws have also recently become more radical, with many states in India punishing Hindus who convert to Christianity, throwing them in jail, racking fines against them or worse.

3) The Rashtirya Swayamesvak Sangh (RSS)

The RSS is a Hindu nationalist organization that has been working to create divisions in central India to win over tribal regions and bring them closer to Hinduism. GCR’s CEO Dr. David Curry says, “One of the RSS’s main tactics is to stoke anger in the tribal communities against Christians, telling them followers of Jesus will poison their land, convert their people and take their heritage away.” These ideals are extremely dangerous, leading to bold attacks against Christians and other minorities.

4) National leadership

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a champion of Hindutva ideology. In describing what that means for the Indian people, Dr. Curry says, “Since 2014, the Hindutva ideology of Prime Minister Modi and his BJP have stoked attacks on Muslim and Christian minorities. Reported incidents of violence against Christians have risen more than 220% since Modi and his party began promulgating the idea that someone must be Hindu in order to be a true Indian.” With leadership taking an ultra-conservative view of their own people, dangers mount for Christians and other religious minorities. If help doesn’t come from those in leadership, where will it come from?

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Our Christian brothers and sisters in India need our fervent prayers.

Let’s pray for their safety against Hindutva and other extremist views, that they will be seen as equals and those with a rich culture and heritage. Pray boldly that anti-conversion laws will be overturned, and those in favor of them will have a fundamental change of heart. Pray for the voice of the RSS to be silenced, that they will lose their power in India and their movement will come to an abrupt halt. And pray for India’s leadership, that Prime Minister Modi will see all Indians—no matter their religion—as equals, and that he’ll put laws in place to protect all citizens under his authority.

Lord, we see these attacks in India and pray for Your intervention and for our Indian family.