INDIA: Prison Sentence for Alleged Forced Conversions

23 April 2024

Source: Morning Star News; The Voice of the Martyrs Canada

A Christian pastor and his wife from central India were recently sentenced to prison after accusations were made that they had been involved in pressuring others to convert to Christianity.

A man had accused the couple of abducting his estranged wife (who also happens to be the pastor’s niece) before allegedly pressuring her to convert, holding the woman against her will, and not allowing her to return home to be with him. He also purported that the Christian couple offered to build his wife a home and give her money each month. The complainant further claimed that the Christians attempted to convert him as well, offering him a job in return.

The pastor and his wife are known by Hindu extremists for their Christian faith. Sources report that the complainant is suspected of partnering with the extremist group in 2021 as they assist in saving his marriage. In return, the man put forth false allegations of forced conversion before the court. Since that time, the couple has faced ongoing court hearings and harassment.

During the court hearing on 11 March, the complainant’s wife testified that she was neither coerced into changing her religion nor offered any financial incentives. She stated that the pastor did not, in any way, pressure her to stay away from her estranged husband, but that she did so of her own volition. Despite her testimony, the district court convicted the two believers and sentenced them to two years in prison, along with a fine. The verdict has since been appealed and the next court hearing is scheduled for 30 April.

Though encouraged by Scripture, the couple fear for their three children who will be left alone should their imprisonment continue. The family has no source of income. The pastor also fears for his wife’s ongoing health issues and how she will manage in jail. Still, he chooses to trust God.

If the conviction stands, it would be the first under Madhya Pradesh’s anti-conversion law. While anti-conversion laws have already been passed in 12 of India’s states, some Hindu nationalist groups are pushing for nationwide legislation. India’s general elections running from 19 April to early June provide the nation with an opportunity to consider repealing this divisive and widely misused legislation, which has resulted in an increase in violence and arrests against religious minorities.

EXPLORE THE GLOBAL PRAYER GUIDE

Learn about global persecution trends and what it means to follow Christ in restricted and hostile nations.

Learn more

Stay informed

Receive weekly emails with the latest prayer points from the persecuted church

    Pray for them

    Pray for India’s elections, that the country’s voters would be guided by a desire for equality and the protection of human rights for all citizens.

    Pray for the pastor and his family, that God would protect and provide for all their needs at this challenging time.

    Pray for the upcoming hearing on 30 April, that the court would not be swayed by outside influences but remain just in their verdict for this couple.

    Recent News

    MEXICO: Displaced Protestants Pressured by Government to Accept Illegal Agreement Read more
    PAKISTAN: Elderly Christian Critically Wounded after False Blasphemy Charge Read more
    PAKISTAN: Pastor Meets with Imprisoned Zafar Bhatti Read more

    One response to “INDIA: Prison Sentence for Alleged Forced Conversions”

    1. Mike says:

      Great God in heaven, I pray that you would protect my brothers and sisters around the world for whom this world is not worthy, for those in Pakistan, India, China, Laos, Nigeria, Lebanon, … anywhere they are suffering for their faith in Jesus. Give them today, their daily bread, forgive them for doubting you or even denying you under pressure or torture. And protect them from the evil one. Fill them with such joy that they cannot not know that you are with them. I asked all these things in the name of Jesus, for whom they are suffering, amen!

    Submit a Prayer

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Join our community

    @vomaustralia @vomau