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Children Arrested for Going to Vacation Bible School

06-03-2017

Indian authorities detained a total of 71 children who were on their way to a Christian summer camp on May 21 and 22 in the Madhya Pradesh region. Although the children belong to Christian families, the state claims they "attempted conversion" into the faith, according to a report from the Crux.

The children were between the ages of 13 and 15.

Two adult men taking the children to the camp were also accused on the same charge.

The children were eventually released to their families.

However, the state government set the children and their family's status as Hindu. The state claims they never officially converted to Christianity, even though the children's families are all Christian.

The Indian state considers a conversion that it doesn't sanction "illegal."

Bhupendra Singh, home minister of the region, heads up state security. He said that "Illegal religious conversion activities are being carried out in a large scale in Jhabua and Alirajpur. We are trying to get to the bottom of the racket."

"For changing to another religion, one needs to submit a written application to the district collector and only after the stipulated process, a person can change religious identity, which didn't happen in the case of any of the parents claiming to be Christians" said Krishnaveni Desavatu, a police superintendant.

"This is why, the children and their parents will be officially treated as Hindu tribals and not Christians," he said, according to The Indian Express.

Five states in India currently have anti-conversion laws.

The state claims such laws are there to stop people from forcibly converting others, or pressuring individuals into the faith.

Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister, has said that the state "will ensure that there is complete freedom of faith and that everyone has the undeniable right to retain or adopt the religion of his or her choice without coercion or undue influence."

But in reality, the laws cause constant difficulties for Christians.

"If you preach about Heaven then it's considered to be bribery; if you speak about Hell then it's considered to be a threat. If you offer any kind of Christian charity then it's regarded also as bribery" said Andrew Boyd of Release International.

The situation reveals the persecution Christians in India face from their own government.

And the state is not the only group persecuting Christians.

Hindu radicals often use violence and fear to pull people back into their faith, and usually go unpunished.

"Extremists have tried to force Christians to renounce their faith and convert to Hinduism. And they have bombed, torched, vandalized and demolished churches," said Relief International chief executive Paul Robinson. "In states across India, militants have threatened and killed church workers."

 

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