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India: Christian couple jailed for trying to convert kin

Many Hindus believe that conversion to Christianity is an attack on their culture and way of life, and an imminent threat to both, despite the fact that Christianity has been a presence in India since the days of St. Thomas the Apostle. The Indian Orthodox Church, or Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church, severed communion with the Church of Constantinople in 451, over the definition of the natures of Christ at the Fourth Ecumenical Council, the Council of Chalcedon.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in India, see here.

“Indian Christian couple jailed for trying to convert kin,” UCA News, March 15, 2024:

A Christian couple in a central Indian state has been sentenced to two years imprisonment for attempting to convert their close relative.

A trial court in Madhya Pradesh’s Sagar district on March 11 sentenced Ramesh Babulal Masih and his wife, Sakhi Ramesh Masih, to two years in jail and imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 (US$603) under the state’s Freedom of Religion Act 2021.

The complainant Abhishek, a close relative of Sakhi, had accused the couple of offering him a job of 20,000 rupees monthly salary, in case he converted to Christianity.

The alleged incident took place in October 2021. Though the couple denied the charges the court found them guilty.

“It is a court order and we have to respect it. At the same time, it is not a final order. The couple can challenge it in the high court, the top court in the state,” Daniel John, a Catholic leader based in Madhya Pradesh capital Bhopal, said on March 15.

“The court convicted them merely based on the allegation of attempt to convert,” he told UCA News. “It is very easy for anyone to level such complaints.”

The sweeping anti-conversion law, enacted by the ruling pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Madhya Pradesh, criminalizes religious conversion through misrepresentation, use of threat or force, fraud, undue influence, coercion, and allurement, among others….

Christians make up less than 1 percent of the 72 million people in Madhya Pradesh and more than 80 percent of them are Hindus.

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