Conversion lobby closing operations after FCRA crackdown: Evangelists rendered jobless, seek other 'career options'
The Union Government’s massive crackdown on foreign funding of illegal non-profit organisations has resulted in the retreat of several evangelical organisations which were engaged in forced religious conversions in South India, especially in Kerala.
With fund flows declining, according to local Malayalam newspapers, hundreds of the pastors who led conversion drive for money, have withdrawn themselves from the 'service' and are now looking for other 'career options'.
The evangelical churches have temporarily stopped the 'service' and prayers at small scale parsonages (evangelical churches). There is a huge decline in the number of prayer meetings which were used to be held on the roadsides. The crisis came after the pastors stopped receiving their monthly income from the foreign countries in the form of aid.
Hundreds of dedicated Pentecostal groups are operational in the districts such as Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Idukki and Kottayam in Kerala. Most of such districts have been severely affected after streamlining the working of NGOs as per the FCRA, Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.
Millions of rupees had been pouring into the accounts of evangelical churches until 2014. According to a report by a foreign consultancy Bain & Co., the FCRA crackdown has resulted in a massive 40 per cent decline in fund flows from external sources in the four years.
Following the MHA decision, the Believers Church and three of its affiliates — Ayana Charitable Trust (formerly Gospel for Asia India), Love India Ministries and Last Hour Ministry, had lost their FCRA registrations in 2017.
Founded by K P Yohannan, the Believers Church is the biggest evangelical mission in Kerala, whose associated organisations had received Rs 1,348.65 crore as foreign aid in 2016.
According to a Times of India report, ‘During FY16, Ayana Charitable Trust (formerly Gospel For Asia) was the single largest recipient of foreign aid in the country as it received Rs 826.27 crore. Believers Church had received Rs 342.64 crore, Last Hour Ministry Rs 103.51 crore and Love India Ministries Rs 76.23 crore during FY16.’
A total cash inflow of Rs 2,397.33 crore, including foreign fund and local transfers, was registered between these companies during FY16.
According to the Home Ministry sources, the cancelled FCRA licenses of the Believers Church have yet to be renewed. According to credible sources, after finding irregularities, the FCRA licenses of several established church agencies were also cancelled on similar lines, which have a noticeable cumulative impact on the ground.
Over 13,000 non-government organisations (NGOs) have been acted against by the Union home ministry by cancelling their licences, according to a report by a foreign consultancy Bain & Co. The report has also found that as many as 4,800 NGOs lost their licenses in 2017 alone.