Christians Alarmed at Non-Hindu Ban around Indian Shrine

( [email protected] ) Aug 18, 2007 02:57 PM EDT

The state government of Andhra Pradesh in India has announced plans to impose a 110-square-kilometre ban of non-Hindu religions around a Hindu shrine.

The news of the ban around the shrine in the Tirupati area of Andhra Pradesh has sparked protests from the Global Council of Indian Christians, according to Ecumenical News International.

The ban will restrict all religious activity in the 110-square-kilometre zone not related to Hinduism.

The Council fears, however, that the restrictions will be misused by those wanting to harass residents in the area who belong to other faiths.

In particular, the Council warned that the legislation could be used to justify violations of freedom of faith and worship, as well as the freedom of association of Christians.

The Council has since appealed to the Governor of Andhra Pradesh, Rameshwar Thakur, asking him “to restore our faith in the rule of law and the supremacy of the Indian constitution" by not approving the legislation. All state legislation must be approved by the federal government before it can be brought into force.

Gospel for Asia recently warned of a sharp increase in the “scope and intensity” of persecution across India. Hinduism has long been regarded by many as India’s official religion, but the extremists have become alarmed by the growing number of people leaving the religion, the persecution watchdog said.

Now the Hindu extremists claim that essential to maintaining a cohesive Indian society is the preservation of Hinduism as the country’s chief religion.

GFA’s President K P Yohannan said that Hindu religious extremists were “determined to do all they can to hurt those who believe and follow Christ”.

"These minority extremists don't represent India nor the sentiments of the Hindu majority of the land,” he said.

GFA said that the Hindu extremists “consistently” accuse Christians of forcibly converting people to Christianity and using “allurement” to convince people to receive Jesus as their Saviour.

“This is often the accusation when the conversion comes after a healing. However, in most cases, the people come to the missionaries requesting prayer for healing,” said the charity.