INDIA: Persecution Relief under pressure

Shibu speakingChurch in Chains partner organisation Persecution Relief is coming under severe pressure and founder Shibu Thomas (pictured at the 2018 conference) has requested prayer. “Please keep me in prayers as I am facing tough times,” he wrote on 2 December in an email to Church in Chains titled “Urgent Prayer Request”.

An Indian NGO called Legal Rights Protection Forum has written a letter to the Ministry of Home Affairs accusing Persecution Relief and Shibu Thomas of “anti-national activities” and has asked the Home Ministry to initiate action against Persecution Relief for tarnishing the nation’s image and working to get economic and other sanctions imposed on the country.

The “anti-national activities” are listed as:

1. Fomenting trouble between different religious communities.

2. Persecution Relief Reports taken into cognisance by US Law Makers and members of United States Council on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) resulting in India being branded as a “Country of Particular Concern” with respect to Minority Religious Rights causing incalculable damage to the prestige and image of India in the eyes of the international world.

3. Conspiracy to defame India across the World. In 2019, India has been rated “10th most dangerous Country for Christians to Live”, by monitoring group Open Doors. The same monitoring group ranked India as 28th such nation in 2014. This group was also influenced by the reports of Persecution Relief.

4. Involvement in collection of information on incidents of alleged Christian persecution in India and submitting it to various international organisations including USCIRF. Publishing persecution reports which are then utilised by Christian organisations across the world. This data is then used to lobby with US Politicians and church organisations to classify India as a “Country of Particular Concern” and pressurise for sanctions against India.

On 30 November, Legal Rights Protection Forum tweeted, “We unearthed the conspiracy of Christian organisations in India in projecting India as a dangerous country for Religious Minorities in the eyes of the world.”

The following day, the Forum tweeted, “Lodged complaint with Ministry of Home Affairs against ‘Persecution Relief’ for sending false reports to international agencies resulting in India being declared as a country dangerous for Religious Minorities by @USCIRF.”

Anti-Persecution Relief article

Persecution Relief logoIndia’s Commune Magazine, which styles itself “a popular magazine for a new era of revolution”, published a long article on 1 December headlined “Shocking details about Persecution Relief, a Christian Missionary NGO exposed!” The following are extracts from the article:

Persecution Relief, an organisation claiming to help ‘persecuted’ Christians in India has been working clandestinely and carrying out anti-national activities. This organisation has been gathering details about crimes across the country where the victims are Christians, collating them, and preparing periodical reports which are then shared with various lobbying organisations in the USA and evangelist organisations across the world.

They primarily collect data of skirmishes between Christian missionaries who go for proselytisation in villages and the locals there, in an attempt to make a case for alleged ‘persecution’ of Christians in India.

While this activity of documenting crimes is a legitimate one, what is to be noted is that the so-called incidents of alleged crimes of ‘persecution’ are isolated incidents which are given a communal colour and presented before the international audience to portray India as an ‘intolerant’ nation and to tarnish the image of Hindus globally as they label innocent citizens of the country who resist Christian conversions as ‘religious fanatics’…

Persecution Relief has been set up by one Shibu Thomas from Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. It is one of the organisations involved in the collection of information on incidents of alleged ‘Christian persecution’ in India and submitting it to various international organisations including the United States Council on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a body of Christian Crusaders, waging a religious war stealthily on native religions and culturesThis data is then used to lobby with US Politicians, Church organisations to classify India as a ‘Country of Particular Concern’ and push for sanctions against India…

Incalculable damage has been done to the prestige and image of India in the eyes of the international world through the notorious attempts of Persecution Relief, a Christian missionary NGO that is out to destroy native culture and religions.

Prayer points

Shibu Thomas closes his prayer request email with a verse, followed by three prayer points.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” (Psalm 20v7)

  • Pray that the groups working against Christians in India are brought to their knees and fall, but that we rise up and stand firm.
  • Pray for God’s wisdom for Persecution Relief leadership to handle this issue.
  • Pray for God’s protection over Shibu and Persecution Relief leadership as they navigate through this challenge.

Read about the persecution of Christians in India in the Church in Chains India Country Profile.

(Commune Magazine, Legal Rights Protection Forum, Persecution Relief)