The rapid growth of Pentecostalism in India may be a leading factor in the mounting incidents of violence against Christians in that country, according to Chad Bauman of Butler University.
Although Pentecostalism is a minority faith in India, its political influence is disproportionate to its size, leading to violent reactions among a segment of Hindus. Even though there has been legislation against Christian proselytism of Hindus since the 1960s, it is only since the late 1990s when incidents of violence against Christians started to grow—the same time period that Pentecostalism expanded (with its practices increasingly adopted by other Christian churches).
There have been 250-300 isolated incidents of violence against Indian Christians in the past few years. Much of this is because Pentecostals are more aggressive in evangelism than previous Christians. Such evangelism is seen as “zealotry” by Hindus, especially when it turns critical of Hinduism, and any opposition they draw from such activity is likely to reinforce their claim to martyrdom, according to Bauman, who presented a paper on the subject at the meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.
Unlike many other Christians, Pentecostals also employ the rhetoric of “rupture” in the conversion process from one’s Hindu past, most evident in many Pentecostal converts refusal to eat food sacrificed to Hindu deities or to go into a Hindu temple. Another Pentecostal point of conflict with Hindus is their emphasis on healing. Somewhat ironically, Hindu critics publicly ridicule these healing practices as promoting “quackery” and opposition to modern life, even though the traditional Hindu criticism of Christianity has been that it is too modern and tied to the West.