India: Christians question sealing of church

May 30, 2022

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. Instances such as those described below are the result.

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

“Christians question sealing of church in eastern India,” UCA News, May 29, 2022:

Christians in Odisha state in eastern India have questioned the sealing of their church and imposition of orders restraining them from gathering for worship after an allegation of religious conversion.

“Our people have been restrained from worshipping since May 17 after the administration sealed the only church in Geltua village under Bhadrak rural police station in Odisha,” said advocate Pratap Chhinchani.

Chhinchani, a practicing lawyer in Orissa High Court, told UCA News on May 27 that the decision to seal the Believers Church was arbitrary with no notice citing any reason served by the administration.

The prohibitory orders imposed by district authorities meant no Sunday worship could be held inside the church where around 100 faithful gather every week.

District officials, however, justified the action by citing a complaint that the church served as a center for religious conversion of tribal people, causing a law and order problem in the locality.

A preliminary probe was carried out after which the church was sealed and orders were put in place to ensure that no untoward incident took place, officials said.

Advocate Chhinchani denied the allegation, saying “worship was held in the church for many years but nobody was converted as is being alleged.”

Some right-wing Hindu activists targeted Christians and even disrupted prayer services intentionally to create trouble, he said.

“Our people lodged complaints at the local police station and even informed the district collector and superintendent of police while seeking protection, but to no avail,” he said.

The district administration did not act against the troublemakers and instead a notice was served to the pastor through a subdivisional magistrate.

Chhinchani said the arbitrary and illegal actions will be challenged in a higher court….