Christian Persecution Sep/Oct 2018

INDIA—India’s Jharkhand state has recently become the sixth state in India to implement a new, draconian “anti-conversion” law that authorities are using to target and imprison Christians under the false accusation of trying to forcibly convert people.

The law, ironically called the “Freedom of Religion Act,” penalizes a person guilty of trying to convert others by “use of force or allurement or fraud.” Punishment consists of three to four years of imprisonment or a hefty fine.

Police in Jharkhand state recently arrested a Christian couple as they were preparing for their wedding ceremony, along with the officiating pastor and an attendee. The arrest took place after the bride’s father, Somaru Manjhi, filed a false complaint that Christians beat him and threatened to kill him if he refused to convert to Christianity.

“My father was drugged with alcohol that day, and the Sarna tribals, including the village president, abetted him to submit the false complaint in the police station pending the wedding so there [wouldn’t] be a Christian wedding in the village,” Manjhi’s 18-year-old daughter Tripti, the bride’s younger sister, told Morning Star News. “He is now repentant for what he has done, but it is too late.”

Everybody in the bride’s family of six, except her father, had become Christians and left Sarnaism, a tribal religion that worships nature. Manjhi was mad his daughter had refused to marry a Sarna, so he complied with the law enforcement’s request.

Biyari Devi, the pastor’s wife and Manjhi’s niece, told Morning Star News the wedding was planned according to the bride and groom’s wishes. “They both come from Sarna families but have accepted Christ, and it is obvious that they would want a holy matrimony. Somaru Manjhi . . . has always been against Christ and the church since the house church was established in 2008. But he never became violent or aggressive with us until the question was about his daughter’s marriage,” Devi said.

Tripti said her family has been pleading with her father to drop the charges. “We have been pleading with my father to testify in court that he was instigated by the Sarnas and that the allegations are false. My younger brother and I keep asking him, ‘How can you go against your own daughter? She is in jail because of you. Why are you doing this?’” she said.

Her father responded that the village president and elders commanded him to sign and file the false complaint they had written and that he regrets his decision. He said he would advocate for the Sarnas to free his daughter but not her fiancé.

Sadly, this incident is not an isolated one. Alliance Defending Freedom-India reported that 15 other Christians have been accused under Jharkhand’s anti-conversion act since it was signed into law in September 2017. The alliance also reported that 76 acts of violence have taken place against Christians in India in the first four months of 2018 alone.

Hindu radicals carry out the majority of the nation’s violence against Christians and dominate India’s central government in New Delhi. Christians make up only 4.8 percent of the population of India, which ranks 11th on Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of the 50 countries where Christians experience the worst persecution.

by Morning Star News
To read the full report, go to Morningstarnews.org.

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