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Persecution: Carol singers arrested in India, charged with attempted ‘conversion’

CHRISTMAS TREE

Tj Holowaychuk - Unsplash

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 12/15/17

Christian persecution persists, even during the holidays.

From the BBC:

Six carol singers have been arrested in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh after a man accused them of trying to convert him to Christianity.

The state has some of the strictest anti-conversion laws in India. One of those arrested was a professor at a Catholic theological college. The group said it was only visiting villages to sing songs. A car used by the carol singers was also set on fire, allegedly by right-wing activists. Police have also filed a case against those accused of torching the car. In the complaint, the resident said that the group, including the professor, had previously asked him to “worship Jesus Christ” and had offered him money to convert. However, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference denied the allegations of forced conversions, saying the group was there just to sing Christmas carols.

More details, from AFP, which indicates a much larger roundup was involved:

Indian police detained dozens of Catholics singing Christmas carols for allegedly trying to convert people, officials said Friday, as fears grow over religious freedom in the South Asian nation. Police said 32 people were detained for trying to convert people to Christianity in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh late Thursday, with a leading Catholic association condemning the accusations as “laughable”. When a group of priests went to the police station to enquire about the detentions, their parked car was torched, allegedly by a mob belonging to a right-wing Hindu group, said Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India. The news comes as India’s Christian minority sounds the alarm over a recent rise in attacks on churches and members of the faith, blaming the violence on Hindu hardliners, who they say have become emboldened since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing government swept to power in 2014. Mascarenhas said 32 Catholics, including two priests, were detained while “conducting a routine Christmas carol singing programme”. “The charge of conversion on which the priests and seminarians (were) detained is frivolous and laughable,” Mascarenhas said in a statement on Friday. He said carol singing had been a part of the Christmas season in Satna “for the last 30 years”.
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