Christian leaders across India have been disturbed by comments made by a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minister comparing religious conversion to rape. Many have complained these comments perpetuate of a false anti-Christian and represent a direct assault on the religious freedom rights protected by the constitution of India.

“Suppose somebody helped a girl in a medical or engineering college and wanted to enjoy the girl physically. That would be treated as a crime, an inhuman act. Similarly, if somebody wants to convert or exploit someone’s belief by giving some service or money, then that should also be treated as a crime – a crime against nature, a crime against humanity.”

“Conversion has been done throughout the country through fraud, forced, or allure. This is illegal and subject to punishment under this law.”
– Pratap Chandra Sarangi, Minister of State for Animal Husbandry

Hindu nationalists often accuse Christians of using force or allurement to convert Hindus to Christianity. These accusations, and the false narrative of mass illegal conversions to Christianity, are used to throw Christian leaders in prison and justify assaults on Christians and their places of worship.

While the claim of mass conversions is often perpetuated by Hindu nationalists, this narrative in not supported by India’s own census data. In 1951, India held its first census after gaining independence in 1947. According to the results of that census, Christians made up 2.3% of India’s total population. According to the 2011 census, the latest figures available, Christians remain 2.3% of India’s total population.

“Christians continued to be viewed as the masters of conversions despite census figures remaining stagnant since independence. However, this does not mean Christians will stop practicing their faith as guaranteed by the constitution of India.”
– A.C. Michael, Development Director for the Alliance Defending Freedom India

BJP Minister Perpetuates Anti-Christian Narrative by Comparing Religious Conversion to Rape:

Phil Heller announced as new lead pastor of Crossroads Christian Church, one of Tri-State’s largest congregations with campuses in Newburgh and on Evansville’s West Side in Indiana [#PhilHeller #Crossroads #Indiana]

Phil Heller has been announced as the new lead pastor of Crossroads Christian Church, one of the Tri-State’s largest congregations with campuses in Newburgh and on Evansville’s West Side in Indiana.

Heller’s hire was recommended by the search team to Crossroads Christian Church elders. Elders unanimously accepted the recommendation.

Heller was on the staff of Crossroads from 1996 to 2002 as student ministries pastor and high school pastor.

He was executive pastor for 13 years at White River Christian Church in Noblesville, Indiana, where he was responsible for providing direction for executing the church’s vision, mission and strategy and developing leadership among the staff and congregation, according to a release from Crossroads.

Heller has a bachelor’s in specialized ministries from Kentucky Christian University and is near to completing his masters in Organizational Leadership from Indiana Wesleyan University.

“I am excited about rejoining the tri-state community. And I look forward to pursuing the collective vision among Evansville area church leaders to see the Tri-State be a place where everyone flourishes.”
– Phil Heller

Crossroads Christian Church announces new lead pastor
Evansville Courier & Press