Churches in southern India are cancelling Christmas celebrations due to rising persecution. Emboldened by talk of a new anti-conversion law, Hindu radicals in Karnataka state attack or threaten believers regularly.

“Karnataka’s had a reputation of being pretty progressive. But the strong anti-Christian movement certainly has started there; it’s [ranked third] in the places where we’ve seen persecution or acts of violence against Christians,” John Pudaite of Bibles For The World says.

State lawmakers are considering drafted legislation during the Winter Session. If the draft bill passes, Karnataka will become the fifth state in 12 months to enact a new anti-conversion law or strengthen an existing one.

Uttar Pradesh led the anti-conversion trend in December 2020, and Madhya Pradesh followed in January of this year. Gujarat reinforced its anti-conversion edicts this summer. Haryana is reportedly putting the finishing touches on its new law, modelled after the UP standard.

“This is a real cause for concern,” Pudaite says.

“We have heard reports that the ruling party, the BJP, is looking to enact an anti-conversion law across all of India.”

According to Voice of the Martyrs Canada, persecution dramatically increases after states pass anti-conversion laws. “We’ve seen an increase in violence against Christians already. A lot of people on the ground are acting as if it’s already passed,” Pudaite says.

“These (anti-conversion laws) are primarily directed against the growth of the Body of Christ because not many people are converting from Muslim to Hindu,” he continues.

“But with the work of Christians and the work of the Holy Spirit, we see so many Hindus and Muslims coming to Christ across India.”

Ask the Lord to strengthen and encourage His followers in Karnataka state. Pray believers will advocate for their rights, even though India’s religious cacophony quickly drowns their voices.

“Pray those (lawyers) who are representing Christian interests may be strong at this time in drafting counter-proposals. They do this (represent believers) under personal threats,” Pudaite says.

“We need to pray they will be strong and stay true to what they are trying to fight for – the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Indian constitution.”


Written by Katey Hearth. This story originally appeared at Mission Network News and is republished here with permission.