10/03/2021 India (International Christian Concern) –According to Asia News, a Pentecostal pastor was arrested on Tuesday after distributing evangelical pamphlets and Bibles in Lalas village, Himachal Pradesh.
Pastor John, accompanied by two Christian brothers, was confronted by a group of Hindu nationalists who ordered him to stop the distribution process. They then accused the trio of forced conversion activities, including giving people money in exchange for their conversion.
Pastor John pleaded not guilty, stating: “I only offered the Bible, and I gave it to those who freely accepted the Good News. Some people rejected the gospel I was giving them, and I didn’t insist.”
He continued, “I am even willing to offer the Bible, which is the Word of God, to the police. What we do is share the Good News with people, tell them about Jesus, but without forcing anyone to convert. The accusations made against me are totally false: I have never offered money to convert people.”
In states where anti-conversion laws are enacted, including Himachal Pradesh, they are widely used to spread disinformation about minorities and provide legal cover for radical Hindu nationalists and their activities. Christian leaders and evangelists are often falsely accused of forcefully converting individuals to Christianity to justify harassment and assault. Local police often overlook this harassment due to the false accusation of forced conversions.
In 2020, the religious freedom situation in India deteriorated to such a degree that the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommended India be designated a Country of Particular Concern (“CPC”), a designation reserved for the world’s worst violators of religious freedom.