Christians arrested at wedding reception in India
Indian police arrested nine pastors and a recently married Christian couple in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, on March 27th.
Indian police raided a Christian wedding reception following vindictive allegations from militant Hindu nationalists. The pastor of an Assemblies of God church was hosting a ceremony at his home for his daughter and son-in-law. The pastor tried to clarify that they were celebrating holy matrimony. Still, the authorities ignored his explanation and arrested him along with the newly married couple and the eight other pastors that were present.
The State of Uttar Pradesh issued a decree in November 2020 that outlaws religious conversions by “misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or any fraudulent means.” Even though eight other Indian states passed similar legislation, Hindu nationalists saw this as an opportunity to exploit the law and persecute Christians.
“These days are very challenging days in our state,” stated a Christian leader from the region. “More than 200 churches were shut down in the last few months, and 52 pastors and Christians are detained in the prisons across the state of Uttar Pradesh. It is challenging for Christians to gather for worship… Today’s incident of nine pastors that were sent to jail tells the bigger story of how Christians cannot gather for any purpose whatsoever.”
According to Open Doors UK, almost 69 million Christians live in India, representing 5% of the population. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS – an Indian right-wing, Hindu nationalist paramilitary organisation) spies live in nearly every village and report on the activities of Christians, resulting in attacks and arrests. Churches have been destroyed and burned, worship gatherings disrupted, crosses vandalised, Bibles and other Christian literature confiscated, and pastors beaten and jailed. Christians are often arrested and imprisoned for up to three weeks after being falsely accused of forcing Hindus to convert to Christianity.