On Thursday 1 July, Open Doors presented to Parliament a shocking new report (independently conducted by LSE) called Destructive Lies. It highlights the severe persecution facing Christians at the hands of Hindu extremists, including the troubling role social media plays in perpetuating lies and violence. Please pray that the briefing and report will lead to tangible change for religious minorities in India.
Christians in India are facing ‘imminent existential threat’ under a systemic campaign of violent Hindu nationalist persecution. This is a finding from Destructive Lies, a shocking new report from the London School of Economics (LSE), commissioned by Open Doors, which will be presented to Parliament today (1 July). Thank you so much to everybody who invited their MP to attend this vital briefing, to find out more about the situation facing Indian believers.
At the bottom of this post, you can see a list of all the MPs who attended.
The driving force behind this increasing persecution is Hindutva, an ideology that disregards Indian Christians and Muslims (and other religious minorities) as true Indians because they have allegiances that lie outside India, and asserts the country should be purified of their presence. This is leading to a systemic, and often carefully orchestrated, targeting of Christians and other religious minorities.
“Recently, the place of the Christians has become precarious,” writes Dr David Landrum, Director of Advocacy and Public Affairs for Open Doors UK and Ireland. “With waves of persecution sweeping over religious minorities, Christians are experiencing intense and unprecedented pressure in India.”
From the report – which features eight case studies – four headline findings have emerged:
The research found that ‘an atmosphere of deep trauma, fear and anxiety pervades the Christian communities that we visited in rural areas, as well as many of the Christian and Muslim communities in medium-sized towns and villages and on the outskirts of larger cities’.
These fears are based on experiences of persecution, including exclusion, bullying and violence, where Christians have not hidden their faith. Other factors, such as gender and class status, have heightened the suffering.
Behind much of the hostility is personal ambition. Vigilante mobs or violent squads target Christian and Muslim communities, and cast them as the villains, as a way of currying favour with local and national politicians.
Not only have Christians been deliberately overlooked in the distribution of Covid-19 government aid, they have also been the subject of disinformation relating to the pandemic. These lies have spread across mainstream and social media platforms and apps.
This includes images circulating showing people refusing blood transfusions from Muslim and Christians, whilst both faith communities have been blamed for the spread of Covid-19. Only a small number of such posts have been taken down.
And this is despite Christians and Muslims contributing to community Covid-19 relief efforts, in some cases working alongside Hindus and Sikhs.
Some Indian states have anti-conversion laws. These are frequently used to target Christians for ‘forced conversions’ and reflect how hard-line Hindu influences in the political sphere translates to regressive laws.
Meanwhile, at a local level, various state actors, such as district administrators, lower court judges and police officials, ‘use loopholes and misuse procedural provisions to harass religious minority groups’.
One of the first things extremists will do before attacking Christians and other religious minorities is snatch their phones. This is to prevent them documenting the incident. But the perpetrators themselves will record the attack and post it on social media.
Why? There are several reasons. To promote their own reputation amongst Hindutva groups and politicians. To warn religious minorities to stop practising their faith. And to let police know that they are unashamed of their violence.
Troublingly, the mainstream media cannot be relied upon to give an accurate version of events. Even if a local reporter captures the real story, the final edit will be dictated by ‘an institutional hierarchy which is either risk averse or loyal to powerful Hindutva organisations and parties’, reads the report. If a story cannot be spun against religious minorities, it almost invariably won’t be covered at all.
The report makes a series of urgent recommendations to the international community and international financial organisation, including an international fact-finding commission to record levels of violence and human rights violations against religious minorities.
"What is really shocking is how un-seriously this is being taken" Report author
Recommendations are also made to social media corporations and media outlets. This includes an increase in moderators to address local issues of discrimination, harassment, and violence, and the provision of religious literacy training.
“What is really shocking is how un-seriously this is being taken by [social media] platforms and companies who … support human rights,” adds one of the authors of Destructive Lies, who have published the report anonymously for security reasons. “They should deal with it as seriously as if Christians were being persecuted like this in the U.S. or in the UK. I think they would have a different reaction to it then.”
Thank you again to all of you who contacted invited your MP to the launch today. In total, 38 MPs and representatives have confirmed attendance. Your efforts to bring the needs of our persecuted family before MPs makes an enormous difference.
And you still have a vital role to play through your prayers. Please pray that the briefing and report will leave a lasting impression on all those present, and that every single recommendation will be followed through, resulting in significant change for Christians and other religious minorities in India.
Below is a list of the MPs who either attended or sent representatives. If you see your MP’s name on the list, why not email and thank them for taking an active interest in this important issue?
Dr Lisa Cameron
Mary Kelly Foy
Angus Brendan MacNeil
Heavenly Father, thank You for the opportunity to present the disturbing findings of this report to Parliament. Powerfully use its words to compel those in power to use their influence to make life better for Christians and other religious minorities in India. May every single recommendation be fulfilled, leading to welcome change for people in India. Let this report and launch be a watershed moment. Amen.
Indian Christians are facing an existential threat, caused by destructive lies. You can stand for truth by sending Nigel Adams, Minister for Asia, a powerful video about this violence – and asking him to take action.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.