The Church in India has never been under such stress as in the Christmas season of 2020.
Starved of finances under a harsh law that regulates inter-national donations and the near absence of worshippers in the Covid-19 curfew, the Church cutting across denominations is pummelled by accusations from political foes and the seething anger of a section of the faithful outraged at exposes of corruption and moral turpitude, sometimes in the highest echelons of the clergy.
As the largest denomination, claiming a full 60 percent of the Christian population of about 30 million among 1.25 billion Indians, the Catholic Church gets more than its share of the torment from within and outside.
For the Episcopal, Evangelical, Pentecostal and independent churches, while some of the bigger groups have leaders facing serious charges of financial bungling and alienation of property — the polite word for selling off churches, graveyards or institutional lands — the main threat remains from the laws against religious conversion, once confined to a mere six states but now rapidly legislated in many more provinces by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] which rules the country and controls two-thirds of the states. It does not seem too far away when it will be operational across the country.