There have been some disturbing developments happening in the nation of India that should be concerning to all Christians. Christians in India are facing existential threats from a systematic campaign of violent nationalist persecution. A new report compiled by the London School of Economics and Open Doors, also found that the campaign of violence and intimidation is heavily fueled by new social media platforms.
Murray Noble is a communications specialist at Open Doors and joined Neil Johnson on Vision’s 20Twenty program to share his thoughts on the treatment of Christians across India, many of whom are living in constant fear.
According to Murray, this isn’t something new. Daily life for Christians in India is a massive struggle because of constant fear and the systemic campaign against them. The violence has escalated to assault and murder, and this has made India a very hard place to live as a Christian.
What’s unfortunate says Murray, is that these attacks and harassments are often completely ignored by the police. “Sometimes even the perpetrators are sided with by the police. So, it’s really hard for Christians to see an end to this when it’s happening constantly.”
‘Open Doors’ has heard many stories about Christians facing this persecution in India, but now for the first time there is concrete data telling us what’s going on and hopefully where the international community can help.
“What we’re seeing is Hindu nationalists targeting anyone from a religious minority. And while we often have those stories of Christians, there are also many stories of Muslims who are facing similar forms of persecution from these far-right nationalists.”
Murray says it’s very hard to understand how the justice system can be on the side of a mob who break into a house and beat a family of Christians. “It’s hard to comprehend how this could be the case in any country. There needs to be more accountability. The problem is that people in positions of power are condoning this kind of action by Hindu nationalists, and in some cases carrying out these assaults to actually gain favour with people in power.”
Some states in India are introducing laws that will punish Christians for what they’re calling a ‘forced conversion’. When in reality, it’s just Christians practicing their own faith. When at a state level there are laws being created to reward those who are carrying out persecution, it’s difficult to fathom.
“What we’re also seeing in India and around the world is a lack of moderation through social media platforms,” Murray continues. “Without enough moderators to address issues of discrimination and harassment and violence, a number of these rumors can fly quite easily through the radar. And so we see mainstream media and social media covering mob attacks from the side of the perpetrators, and the victim’s voices just doesn’t get heard. Social media becomes an easy place for people to gain followers of like-minded people who are willing to commit these acts of persecution.”
For us here in Australia and others around the world, we need the media to report truthfully. Otherwise we will very quickly become a one-sided country and a one-sided media. This is so important for religious minorities in countries like India.
Open Doors works with the local church in India and with COVID happening right now, there is incredible persecution going on. “We have an opportunity for people to support Christians who need urgent aid, who are refused medical treatment because they are Christian. This is what we can do right now.”
If you would like to help, please visit opendoors.org.au for more information on how you can support Indian Christians who really need it during this time.
Listen below to hear the rest of this challenging conversation with Neil and Murray.