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India

India bans four Christian groups from accepting foreign funds

The Modi government canceled the FCRA licenses of about 10,000 organizations in 2015 alone

Nirendra Dev, New Delhi

Nirendra Dev, New Delhi

Updated: September 08, 2020 10:21 AM GMT
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India bans four Christian groups from accepting foreign funds

The landing page of the New Life Fellowship Association website. Its license to receive foreign funding has been canceled this year along with those of three other Christian organizations. (Screengrab)

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India's Home Ministry has canceled four Christian organizations' licenses to receive foreign donations without specifying any reason for the move.

The Christian groups are among six organizations whose licenses have been canceled this year, a ministry source told UCA News.

The four organizations are Mumbai-based New Life Fellowship Association, Evangelical Churches Association of Manipur in the northeast, Ecreosoculis North Western Gossner Evangelical and Northern Evangelical Lutheran Church — both based in Jharkhand state.

A license number under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), commonly known as an FCRA number, is mandatory to receive foreign donations in a bank account.

"From time to time, relevant matters concerning FCRA norms are reviewed, and government actions are taken," said an official without citing any specific reasons for canceling the FCRA numbers of the four Christian organization.

Federal agencies are probing the funding activities of two US-based Christian donors — the Seventh Day Adventist Church and Baptist Church — in India.

Officials say the government under Prime Minister Modi has been strict in issuing and renewing these licenses. The government exempts only UN agencies.

Christian leaders say Modi's pro-Hindu government that came to power in 2014 has been promoting the idea of making India a Hindu-only nation. Its policies ignore the rights of religious minorities such as Christians and Muslims, they say.

Three years ago, an influential US-based Christian donor called Compassion International was forced to stop its Indian operations.

In 2018, Baptist World Alliance chief Reverend Paul Msiza could not attend the 150 years of celebrations of Christianity in the Garo Hills in Meghalaya after the government denied him a visa.

The Modi government canceled the FCRA licenses of about 10,000 organizations in 2015 alone. It included funding agency Ford Foundation and the global environmentalist group Greenpeace. However, fewer than 20 of them were Christian organizations.

Some of these organizations "failed to provide annual income and expenditure information" for the past six years," a ministry source told UCA News.

In 2019, the government canceled the FCRA certification of 1,807 non-government organizations and educational institutions across the country.

The FCRA licenses of several organizations were canceled for not complying with this new tax norm.

A government order says organizations whose FCRA license has been canceled are not eligible to apply for another for a period of three years.

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