On Christmas Day in India came a move that some say is the result of rising anti-Christian sentiment. On Saturday, the Hindu-majority nation refused to renew the license that allowed for funding from abroad for Missionaries of Charity, the group founded by Mother Teresa that runs nun-managed shelters and other services for the poor, including hospices, schools, and community kitchens. India's home ministry noted the ban for international funding was due to "adverse inputs," reports the Guardian, which notes the decision came just days after a police probe looked into whether the charity "[hurt] religious sentiments of Hindus."
Included in those accusations are allegations by Hindu hardliners that the charity lured young girls in a group home in Gujarat state to convert to Christianity by making them wear crosses around their necks and participate in Christian prayer and reading sessions. The latest development comes amid a wave of attacks on religious minorities across India, with reports of a church vandalization and disruptions at Christmas celebrations, as well as dozens of reports of other violent incidents or threats made, reports the BBC.
The Calcutta-based charity—founded in 1950 by the Mother Teresa, the Roman Catholic humanitarian who was made a saint in 2016—isn't the only organization that's seen a crackdown on where it gets its money from: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has for years been putting restrictions on foreign funding for NGOs, with both Amnesty International and Greenpeace recently seeing their accounts frozen. In a Monday statement, Missionaries of Charity confirmed that its license renewal application for foreign funding had been rebuffed and said it won't take money from abroad "until the matter is resolved."
But it also denied any charges of forced conversions in India, where 24 million Christians—or about 2% of the population—reside. "We have not converted anyone or forced anyone to marry into Christian faith," a spokesperson said, per the Guardian. Meanwhile, per Al Jazeera, a rep for the All India Catholic Union says of the recent attacks on Christians: "The strength of India is in its diversity, and the people who have done this at Christmas are the real anti-nationals." (Read more India stories.)