Mother Teresa’s organisation has been barred from accepting funding from overseas by the Indian government, only days after it was investigated by the police for “hurting Hindu religious emotions” amid escalating intolerance towards Christians in India.
The Missionaries of Charity, which was founded by Mother Teresa in 1950 and runs a network of shelters across India maintained by nuns to serve the needy, was denied a licence to continue receiving contributions from outside India, thereby cutting the charity off from essential resources.
When considering the application, the home ministry found “adverse inputs,” according to the decision published on Christmas Day.
The plea was denied less than two weeks after Hindu hardliners accused the charity of forcing Hindus to convert to Christianity in a home for girls it runs in the Gujarat city of Vadodara.
The charges were that the organisation was “luring” destitute young Hindu women to become Christians by forcing them to study Christian scriptures and participate in Christian prayer, which the charity vehemently denies.
“The institution has been engaging in activities to purposely and bitterly harm the religious sensibilities of Hindus,” according to a police investigation.
“The girls at the Home for Girls are being persuaded to become Christians by forcing them to wear a cross around their necks and by placing the Bible on the table in the girls’ storeroom so that they must read it… Forcing the girls to convert to Christianity is an attempted crime.”
All of the charges were dismissed by a Missionaries of Charity spokeswoman as unsubstantiated. “No one has been compelled to convert or marry into the Christian faith,” he stated.
The charge comes amid a wave of anti-Christian bigotry and violence in India, with rightwing Hindu nationalist parties accusing Christians of forcing Hindus to convert against their choice or through bribes.
As anti-Christian fury has escalated in recent months, Christian pastors have been attacked and church services have been forcefully disrupted, and over Christmas, there was an unprecedented series of attacks against the Christian community, including the vandalism of a statue of Jesus Christ.
Many see the government’s rejection to award a new licence to Mother Teresa’s charity, which is run by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as indicative of a growing intolerance toward Christian organisations functioning in India.
The BJP government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has tightened the reins on NGOs accepting foreign funding in recent years, particularly those that have been critical of the government, and Greenpeace and Amnesty International are among those whose accounts have been suspended.
The Missionaries of Charity stated in a statement on Monday that their renewal application had been denied, and that they would not run any foreign funding accounts “until the problem is resolved.”