Christmas is usually Nayomi Gracy’s favourite time of year. But this year, Gracy is feeling more fearful than cheerful. Right-wing Hindu groups have recently led a succession of violent attacks against her Christian community in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.
When she attends church in her home city of Bangalore on Christmas Day, the congregation will be guarded by armed police. ‘It is a mental torture. They say we cannot go to church or they will kill us but the police have promised to protect us and to help us,’ said Gracy.
India’s historic Christian community dates back to 52AD. It is believed the Apostle Thomas, better known as Doubting Thomas, arrived in the southern India state of Kerala and baptised a small group of residents.
Today the community should, in theory, form an important part of India’s secular tapestry. There are 28 million or so Indian Christians who constitute around two per cent of the country’s total population.
Yet the community’s very survival has never been under such threat. In 2022, there have already been over 550 violent attacks on India’s Christians, according to the United Christian Front (UCF), an Indian NGO. This is the largest number for any year on record.
India is ruled by the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) and headed by Narendra Modi, the country’s hugely popular prime minister, who was re-elected in 2019. Under Modi’s tenure, few would doubt that India doesn’t deserve a seat at the global top table. The country’s economy recently overtook the United Kingdom to become the fifth largest on the planet.
To consolidate their power domestically, though, the BJP has implemented a series of divisive Hindu nationalist policies. Their aim has been to appeal to the country’s majority Hindu electorate at the expense of its minorities.
This has included stoking hatred against India’s Christians. The BJP has proposed state benefits be withdrawn from Christians and that believers should be banned from holding political office in the country.
The BJP’s rhetoric has emboldened India’s myriad of powerful right-wing Hindu groups, like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which has around six million members. These groups are now increasingly leading violent mob attacks against Christians, their churches and pastors.
On Sunday, in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, there were 20 coordinated attacks against the state’s Christians. Over 200 people were forced from their homes.
‘This coordinated wave of attacks against the Christian residents of Bastar [in Chhattisgarh] is shameful and highly condemnable,’ said Dr Michael Williams, the National President of the UCF.
This story was originally published in spectator.co.uk . Read the full story here