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Indian Pastor Jailed on Baseless Conversion Charges

In India, a pastor named Bajarang Rawat found himself behind bars under allegations of breaking the country’s “anti-conversion” laws by sharing the Gospel, even though there was no concrete evidence of any wrongdoing. 

Rawat, a 47-year-old pastor, was charged with attempting to convert people through “allurement” under the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021. However, the police failed to produce any witnesses to support their claims, and the only item they presented as evidence was Rawat’s Bible, according to Morning Star News.

Rawat’s ordeal began on July 16 when he was arrested and charged at the Loni Katra police station. The next day, when he was brought before the judge, they cited the Bible as the reason for his arrest. However, the magistrate reprimanded the police, asserting that owning a Bible was not a crime and revealing that he also had a Bible at home. Despite this, Rawat was sent to jail.

This incident is another example of how Hindu extremists in India misuse “anti-conversion” laws to target Christians. Rawat’s arrest left his wife and two children struggling to survive, as he was the family’s sole breadwinner. They were eventually discovered living in a run-down shed, suffering from hunger and poor living conditions.

Even though the police, media, and Hindu nationalists could not find any witnesses to testify against Rawat, they blamed him for allegedly brainwashing people away from idol worship. One Hindu nationalist accused him of spreading a “foreign religion” and preaching about a “foreign God.”

Subsequently, authorities questioned members of Rawat’s church, who courageously testified about their faith and denied being converted through “allurement.” They shared stories of healing and remained steadfast in their beliefs. Rawat, as a poor man without a proper home or job, insisted that he had nothing to offer people other than his prayers.

With the assistance of Christian leaders, Rawat was released on bail. He and his family were relocated to an undisclosed location with rented living quarters, where he continues to meet with congregants individually to share the Word of God. Despite the confiscation of his Bible, he remains resolute in his faith and commitment to preaching.

India is home to millions who believe that the country should be exclusively for Hindus, and they aim to eliminate other religions, including Christianity and Islam. Although Christians make up about 2.3% of the population in India, they are a growing religious community.

Persecution of Christians is a global issue, with one in seven Christians worldwide facing persecution, according to a recent report from World Relief and Open Doors USA. The report, titled “Closed Doors,” reveals that 360 million Christians confront high levels of persecution and discrimination. Tragically, over 5,550 Christians were killed for their faith in the past year, and many others were arrested and imprisoned worldwide.

Christians encounter severe persecution in countries with authoritarian governments, such as North Korea, Iran, Myanmar, China, and Eritrea. 

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