In a fresh crackdown on Christian evangelical organisations, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has suspended the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licences of four Christian associations this year. It is mandatory to have FCRA clearance from the Home Ministry for any organisation to receive foreign funds.
As per a report in The Hindu, the four organisations whose licences were suspended are Ecreosoculis North Western Gossner Evangelical (Jharkhand), Evangelical Churches Association (Manipur), Northern Evangelical Lutheran Church (Jharkhand), and New Life Fellowship Association (Mumbai). Besides, two Christian donors, namely, Seventh Day Adventist Church and Baptist Church are also under the watch of the Ministry. Both of them are US-based.
Christian evangelical organisations have been operating in India for a long time
The New Life Fellowship Association came into existence in India in 1964, following the arrival of missionaries from New Life Churches in New Zealand. The government had suspended its licence on February 10, 2020. Earlier, the Bajrang Dal had disrupted ‘prayer meetings’ by the association in April and September 2019 and registered a complaint with the police for using the platform to convert people.
Similarly, the origin of the Evangelical Churches Association can be traced to a Welsh Presbyterian missionary who came to India in 1910. It became a full-fledged association in 1952 and operated from Manipur. Ecreosoculis North-Western Gossner Evangelical, whose FCRA licence was recently suspended, can be traced to the Gossner mission of Germany in Chotanagpur, Jharkhand the Hindu report stated. The 4th association, Northern Evangelical Lutheran Church, was established in India in 1987 and has an estimated 7.7 crore Christians connected to it in 99 countries.
Centre has banned over 20000 NGOs from receiving foreign funds
Other than the above-mentioned four Christian evangelical associations, the government had also cancelled the FCRA licences of two other organisations, namely, Rajnandgaon Leprosy Hospital and Clinics, and the Don Bosco Tribal Development Society. The Home Ministry has cancelled 20,674 licences till date. While 22,457 NGOs continue to have FCRA clearance, around 6,702 organisations have expired licences.
In the first five years of the Modi government, over 14,800 NGOs were deregistered over violations of FCRA rules.
Religious conversion halts in Kerala after crackdown
Last year, it was reported that several Pentecostals in South India have stopped their religious campaigns due to the look of financial aid. Pastors were no longer receiving the salary for their gospel work. They were now unable to repay loans that were taken for their houses and purchase of vehicles. In Kerala alone, there are more than 100s of Pentecostal Missions that preach in public places and on the roadside.
Pentecostal missions mainly depend on foreign funds. Modi government’s economic reforms including the stringent Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act norms had brought about a massive reduction in these foreign funds. Kerala received more than Rs 100 crores per year inflow of funds until 2014, which stopped abruptly after the Central government demanded details and source of funds. As reported by Organiser, the FCRA crackdown has resulted in an abrupt decline of 40% of foreign inflow of funds.