Indian churches worried by new controls on foreign support
Christians in India are alarmed that their educational and public welfare work may be curtailed by a plan to enact a new law to prevent "misuse" of foreign funds.
In a statement last week, the All India Christian Council (AICC) ecumenical lay forum protested against the news that the government will prevent the free flow of foreign aid to Christian missionaries and non-government organisations (NGOs).
The newspaper The Hindu revealed that the government is seriously concerned with the free flow of funds from abroad which it fears are misused by the beneficiaries for religious conversions and proselytisation and even to purchase arms and ammunition.
AICC chairman Dr Joseph D'Souza suggested an existing less stringent law "is already being used as a weapon by the BJP government to target Christian groups and to stifle all protest".
He said: "We fear the proposed laws are being designed to entirely curtail the educational and public welfare work of the Christian community in India. Christian groups have been thoroughly investigated in the law two years ago and have been found innocent and yet extremist groups as well as ruling political parties have persisted in a hate campaign against us."
According to the Church's Statistical Year Book of 1999, the Catholic Church in India provides education for about seven million pupils of all grades in some 20,000 schools and cares for people in 14,524 welfare institutes.