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India’s New Restrictions on Religious Liberty Threaten Critical Aid to the Poor

In a sad development, the government of India is clamping down on religious liberty, and impoverished children stand to lose the most.

Compassion International, a Christian organization that partners with local churches around the world to improve the lives of children in poverty, began shutting down its operations in India due to financial restrictions imposed on them by the Indian government. This will leave an estimated 145,000 children worse off.

The shutdown comes after months of attempts to convince the Indian government to reverse its decision, and the clampdown on Compassion International comes amid other government actions against nearly 11,000 faith-based and secular organizations operating in India.

Compassion International is a faith-based aid organization that provides humanitarian assistance for underprivileged children around the world, and has operated in India since 1968. The group is the largest single foreign provider of assistance in India, contributing around $45 million in humanitarian aid annually.

Stephen Oakley, general counsel for Compassion International, testified that the organization hosts programs that run five to six days a week, and provides meals, medical treatment and tutoring, as well as financial assistance for school tuition.

While these programs are run out of the local Christian churches, Compassion International denies that any forced conversions take place and does not use adherence to Christianity as a condition for providing assistance. The aid is purely based on need.

But the Indian government has cited forced conversions and subversion of the national interest under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act to block Compassion International’s funding in India.

Read more at the Stream.

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