Trump ally Mark Burns denies breaching visa terms in India campaign
An advertisement for the event by Pastor Mark Burns in Bangalore, India. One report claimed that Burns may have had visa problems because of rules against conversion.Pastor Mark Burns, an ally of Donald Trump, has denied to Christian Today that he has experienced any visa problems while in India to preach despite a report implying that he was in violation of rules against the promotion of religion.
Pastor Burns is in Bangalore, the capital of the southern Karnataka state, for the next four days. He is preaching at the SMPC International Worship Centre.
A report on the One India website said that the event 'may be in violation of Indian visa norms that stop a foreigner from indulging in any kind of religious promotion or propaganda'. It added that a 'complaint in this regard has been filed with the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer' in Bangalore.
One India cited a document from the Ministry of Home affairs 'that clearly states that no foreigner is allowed to propagate or campaign for a particular religion in the country'.
However, a spokesperson travelling with Burns confirmed by telephone that the event was going ahead, from today onwards, and denied any knowledge of any visa issues.
In April, the American evangelist Donna Schambach was forced to cancel her own event in Bangalore after the right-wing Hindu nationalist VHP leader Girish Bhardwaj lodged a complaint alleging that she had violated visa rules.
Schambach had been due to host a gathering called the Power and Reality of the Kingdom.The controversies over US preachers in India come after a spate of anti-conversion laws, in force in some six states.
The persecution watchdog Open Doors has monitored the steady rise of mistreatment of Christians India in its annual World Watch List. Now ranked the 15th worst country in the world to be a Christian, India is the highest it has ever been on the influential scale.Meanwhile Compassion, a major Christian charity was forced to leave the country accused of proselytism, abandoning more than 50 projects and around 145,000 children.
As Christian Today reported yesterday, David Robin, a lawyer with the religious freedom charity ADF International, said that the conversion laws, as well as the government's laissez-faire attitude to mob violence, have fuelled a steady rise in attacks on Christians.
'The anti-conversion laws regulate religious conversions and require that every religious conversion be investigated by the state to ascertain if there is any force, fraud or allurement. The state becomes the final arbiter of whether my faith is genuine,' Robin told Christian Today.
'Furthermore, as these terms are poorly defined, they often lead to unnecessary harassment of Christians who are practising and propagating their faith.'
Open Doors CEO Lisa Pearce said: 'There is a clear pattern of rising religious intolerance across the Indian sub-continent, which affects many millions of Christians.
'Religious nationalists attempt to forcibly convert people to the dominant faith of their nation, often turning to violence when community discrimination and non-violent oppression do not succeed in imposing their religious beliefs on minority Christians.'