India, the second most populated nation in the world, is inconsistent in regards to religion.
India’s constitution ensures religious freedom for all. Many persecuted Jews, Parsi, Baha’i, and even Christians have sought refuge within it’s borders. The largest religious group in India is Hinduism, a religion that is thought of by many as a tolerant, peace-loving religion that does not promote religious intolerance, discrimination or persecution against any other religious group.
However, many Indian governmental, political and organizational leaders are in favor of tactics that would remove or eliminate the Christian and Muslim population. Discrimination and persecution against Christians and Muslims is on the rise. Many states within India are currently passing anti-conversion laws based upon interpretation of a line in the constitution that says that religious practice is guaranteed as long as it is done
. . . in a way that does not disrupt public order and does not affect morality adversely.
Despite constitutionally guaranteeing religious freedom for all religious groups and being a beacon for many religious groups, India is entangled in a web of religious intolerance. And Hindu nationalists are using one sentence in the Indian constitution to justify laws against conversion that hinder activities of Christians and Muslims.
But, recent religious intolerance in India comes from all religious groups, not just Hindus. The main issue seems to be matters of conversion and extremism.
- The National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT), a Baptist-backed non-state militant group, has practiced forced conversion and terrorist tactics since 1989.
The NLFT is a Christian-extremist group in the Northeastern region of India who are fighting for a Christian-only state and secession from India. This in itself is not a bad idea considering the increased discrimination against Christians in India, but the tactics that the NLFT use are just plain terrorism. The NLFT has had increased activities in the recent months; with increased discrimination against Christians by Hindus in India, expect to see the NLFT pop up in world news more and more.
- Kashmir has long since been the area of India in which Muslims and Hindus have been at odds with one another, often times violently. June 2014, Kashmiri Muslims were urged by ISIS and Al-Qaida to wage jihad on Hindus. April 2014, Modi’s government announced plans to create a Hindu-only settlement in Kashmir. Expect war to break out in Kashmir between these two religiously-driven groups.
- Many Indian states are adopting non-conversion laws. While the overall nation of India has not yet done so, expect that this will become a political trend and policy for a majority of India soon. This will result in substantial increase of arrests and convictions of Muslims and Christians in India.
- Sikh’s and other religious minorities have also historically experienced persecution and discrimination in India.
Round and round religious intolerance goes in India. The more that one religious group increases their intolerance of other religious groups, the more the other religious groups increase intolerance of that group. It’s a vicious cycle that seems to have no end in sight.
Extremism is taking hold of the nation of India more and more.
Conversion and national/religious extremism are a product of a society that claims to be democratic, yet is still hanging on to its class/caste system that only benefits the wealthy and powerful members of society while a majority of Indians live in extreme poverty. Laws exist to protect the majority, and discriminate minorities and the laws are religiously motivated; these laws also take away human rights for housing, food, governmental aid, employment, burial, marriage, health care, etc., etc.
In 2008, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom did not have India listed as a country that needed to be watched in regards to religious intolerance, discrimination or persecution. In August 2009, the commission went to India and the following commission report in 2010 placed India on the watch list for increased religious intolerance, discrimination and persecution. The 2015 report lists India as a “Tier 2” offender of religious intolerance.
Next time . . .
What is the Christian, biblical response to India?