“Fifteen families have stopped attending my church in Jhabua in the last six months,” Pastor Singh told International Christian Concern (ICC). “The reason for this drop in the attendance is the threats from Hindu radicals. The radicals say they will beat and kill my church members if they continue to attend the services.”
The threats against Pastor Singh’s congregation in the rural villages of India’s Madhya Pradesh State are just another example of the growing climate of intolerance that Christians in India are facing. Not only has this intolerance left Christians in deep distress, it has also left them in a position where they are denied the fundamental religious freedom rights that are guaranteed by India’s constitution.
“Prior to May this year, around 200 people used to worship regularly in my church,” Pastor Singh explained to ICC. “But now only 50 to 60 people attend my church on Sunday. They are under tremendous pressure from Hindu radicals.”
ICC went on to speak with three of the 15 families that stopped attending Pastor Singh’s church. ICC discovered that these families were under serious threat of physical attack.
“I am Christian by birth,” Shankar Damor, a 37-year-old from Kardubadi village near Jhabua, told ICC. “Yet me and my family are being constantly harassed with accusations of converting to a foreign faith and deserting the Hindu religion.”
Shankar and his family are one of the 15 families that stopped attending Pastor Singh’s church. According to Shankar, the main reason for this was the social boycott against his family because of their Christian faith.
“In a meeting last May in the village of Kardubadi, the Christians were told that we should not attend any church and should not even pray in our homes,” Shankar explained. “When we complained to the village diktat, the entire village stopped associating with us. No one attended our weddings and we were totally cut off from the people of the village.”
“In that same month, when my family was praying in our house, someone from the village called the police and I was taken to the police station on false charges of forced conversions,” Shankar said. “The police beat me brutally and harassed me while in custody.”