On the eve of President Trump’s first state visit to India, a coalition of Indian American Christian organizations has written to the president expressing its concern over religious freedom in India under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In a Feb. 18 letter to the president, the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA), urged Trump "that you raise the situation of religious persecution of Christians and other minorities in India as you meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in private and in public during your upcoming visit to India.”
It noted that the religious persecution carried out by the Modi government is not restricted to Indian citizens alone but that U.S. citizens who work for Christian organizations are regularly deported and or denied entry upon arrival at Indian airports.
The letter noted that as recently as Oct. 2019, police arrested a U.S. Pastor from Tennessee, Bryan Nerren, in Bagdogra airport in Northeast India on the grounds of failing to declare funds after they had interrogated and cleared him in New Delhi. The letter alleged that Nerren was asked if he was Christian and if the money was for Christians or Hindus.
“Authorities have confiscated the pastor’s funds and passport and while he has now been released, he is still waiting to receive his passport. Senator Alexander and Senator Blackburn are working on his case,” the letter noted.
“Mr. President,yourself and the U.S. have made a clear stand for religious freedom during your remarks at the United Nations General Assembly event on Religious Freedom. We ask that you stay true to your promises and religious freedom commitments,” the letter said.
FIACONA said, “What concerns us is how the cases of mob violence, which includes severe beatings, harassment and threats of Christians, Muslims and other non-Hindus are not addressed or prosecuted by the local governments or police.”
It alleged that in addition to the mob violence against minorities , states in India are enforcing so-called “anti-conversion” legislation. Noting that while the government of India defends these laws as important safeguards “against coercion and inducement” to convert or reconvert from one religion to another in a multi-religious society, “they have only been applied towards Christians, and have restricted the right to worship, even in private, and have emboldened Modi’s Hindu nationalists.”
It called upon Trump to raise the issue during his India visit in accordance with his promise in the UNGA that America will always be a voice for victims of religious persecution everywhere. “We ask that you do not let the voices of persecuted Christians, Muslims and other religious minorities in India go unheard.”