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'Persecution' of Christians in India: US church seeks White House sanctions

By Our Representative 
Delegates to the April 2024 United Methodist Church (UMC) General Conference have voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution condemning "Hindu nationalist persecution" of Indian Christians, calling on the US Department of State to designate India a country of particular concern. 
As the second largest protestant denomination in the United States, representing 5 million congregants domestically and 10 million internationally, the vote is said to represent a historic statement on India’s human rights conditions from any Christian church.
The UMC vote comes in response to anti-Christian attacks that have steadily risen under the Modi regime, said those connected with the development. The Delhi-based United Christian Forum reports 720 attacks in 2023 against Christians, a stark increase from 127 in 2014 when Modi first assumed power. The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations documents 1,198 attacks, in 2022, up from 761 in 2021. International Christian Concern ranks India as the 3rd most egregious nation in its list of “persecutors of the year.”
“The UMC's resolution is absolutely historic and the need of the hour as the Church in America must step forward with open concern and conversation about the skyrocketing persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in India,” said journalist and author Peter Friedrich. 
“As the second-largest Protestant denomination in the US, the voice of the UMC on this issue is a God-send. They have set an example, and I hope other Church polities in America will follow their lead.”
The resolution makes particular mention of the persecution of Indian Christians in Manipur, which escalated earlier this year in part due to deliberate inaction on orders from the Modi regime. Hundreds of churches were burned down by mobs and hundreds killed in conflict that swept the northern region, it notes.
The resolution makes particular mention of the persecution of Indian Christians in Manipur, which escalated earlier this year
The resolution also calls on the United States government to “impose targeted sanctions on Indian government agencies and officials responsible for severe violations of religious freedom by freezing those individuals’ assets and/ or barring their entry into the United States under human rights related financial and visa authorities, citing specific religious freedom violations.”
“This resolution makes it a priority for the United Methodist Church to advocate against the weaponization of Religion in the form of ethnonationalism, and to advocate for the human dignity and human rights of people who experience systemic persecution,” said UMC Reverend Neal Christie, who is also Executive Director of the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations. 
“Through this resolution, the church says we will not standby silently while people because of their faith and their conscience and their identity are not only persecuted, but are under threat of erasure because of state sponsored violence in what until now has been celebrated as the largest pluralistic democracy in the world.”
“We applaud the moral clarity and vision of our brothers and sisters at the United Methodist Church. Their decisive statement against Hindu nationalist violence sends a clear signal to the entire world: persecution of religious minorities anywhere is an affront to people everywhere,” said Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) President Mohammed Jawad.

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