Licence application of Missionaries of Charity is rejected on Christmas day amid a wave of anti-Christian sentiment
The Indian government has blocked Mother Teresa’s charity from receiving funds from abroad, just days after it faced a police investigation for “hurting religious sentiments of Hindus” amid rising intolerance towards Christians in India.
The Missionaries of Charity, which was started by Mother Teresa in 1950 and runs a network of shelters across India led by nuns to help the poor, was denied the licence to continue to receive funds from abroad, cutting the charity off from vital resources.
The home ministry, which made the decision on Christmas Day, said it had come across “adverse inputs” when considering the application.
The rejection of the application comes less than two weeks after Hindu hardliners accused the charity of carrying out forced conversions of Hindus to Christianity in a home for girls it runs in Vadodara in the state of Gujarat.
The accusations, which the charity fiercely denies, were that the charity was “luring” poor young Hindu women into becoming Christian by forcing them to read Christian texts and take part in Christian prayer.
“The institution has been involved in activities to hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus intentionally and with bitterness,” a report filed to the police alleged.
“The girls inside the Home for Girls are being lured to adopt Christianity by making them wear the cross around their neck and also placing the Bible on the table of the storeroom used by the girls, in order to compel them to read the Bible … It is an attempted crime to force religious conversion upon the girls.”
A spokesperson for the Missionaries of Charity rejected all the allegations as unfounded. “We have not converted anyone or forced anyone to marry into Christian faith,” he said.
The accusation come amid a wave of anti-Christian intolerance and violence that has been spreading across India, with rightwing Hindu nationalist groups accusing Christians of forcing Hindus to convert against their will, or through bribes.
Christian pastors have been attacked and church services violently disrupted in recent months as anti-Christian hysteria has grown, and over Christmas there was an unprecedented spate of attacks against the Christian community, including the vandalising of a statue of Jesus Christ.
The refusal by the government, which is ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), to grant a new licence to Mother Teresa’s charity has been seen by many as indicative of a growing hostility towards Christian organisations operating in India.
In recent years, the BJP government, led by the prime minister, Narendra Modi, has put a tight rein on NGOs receiving foreign funding, particularly those that have been critical of the government, and both Greenpeace and Amnesty International are among those who have had their accounts frozen by the government.