India: Christians Forced to Convert to Hinduism or Live in Poverty

Amanda Casanova | Contributor | Tuesday, July 21, 2015

India: Christians Forced to Convert to Hinduism or Live in Poverty

Nearly 40 people from Dalit Christian families have converted to Hinduism as part of a nationalist plan to make the families eligible for government benefits.

"We are moving ahead with our initiative and more families from other religions will be reconverted to Hinduism soon. We are being approached by many people who want to come back to their original faith," said Viswha Hindu Parishad Alappuzha District Chief Prathap G Padickal, according to the Times of India.

The Dalits, also known as “untouchables,” are India’s lowest caste, but they can receive some government benefits if they identify as Hindus. Critics say the program is meant to lure people away from Christianity and other religions, according to The Christian Post

According to International Christian Concern, about 25 million Dalits are faced with the decision of choosing between their Christian faith and those government benefits.

"It also has left millions of Dalits to have to decide between choosing to follow Jesus as their Lord and Savior and receiving government benefits that have the ability to take their families out of poverty. All added up, this discrimination has affected the official appearance of India's religious landscape," ICC representatives said in a statement.

In December 2014, another 30 Dalit Christians were reportedly converted to Hinduism in the “ghar wapsi,” or “home coming” program.

Publication date: July 21, 2015