Growing challenges for the Christian community in India: Threats under an ultra-nationalist regime

India is mired in an ultranationalist regime that presents growing challenges for the Christian community, as the country’s episcopate has warned in a statement. In this context, the document denounces the increase in attacks against Christians in various regions of India, evidencing the destruction of homes and churches, as well as the harassment of personnel who work in orphanages, shelters, and educational and health establishments, often under unfounded accusations of conversion.

Christians make up about 2.3% of the Indian population, representing the third largest religious group after Muslims (14.2%) and Hindus (79.8%). Of these, more than 20 million people are Catholics, distributed in three autonomous churches: the Latin Church, the Syro-Malanbar Catholic Church and the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.

Since 2014, India has been under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a member of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). On the horizon are general elections for April and May this year, where Modi will seek a third term.

In January, Open Doors, a religious rights group, ranked India the 11th worst country to be a Christian. The increased implementation of anti-conversion laws in various Indian states was highlighted, creating a hostile environment in which any Christian who shares his faith can be accused, intimidated, harassed and even face violence. This panorama highlights the complexity and urgency of addressing the challenges facing religious freedom in India in the current political context.

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