8 key findings about Christians in India


Christian devotees carrying face masks supply prayers at St. Mary’s Basilica in Bengaluru on Dec. 24, 2020. (Manjunath Kiran/AFP through Getty Photos)

Some say Christianity in India dates again to the earliest followers of Jesus within the first century C.E. Immediately, there are thousands and thousands of Christians within the nation, though they make up simply 2.4% of India’s large inhabitants. South India is residence to about half of the Christians within the nation, and Christians make up a comparatively massive share of individuals in India’s extra sparsely populated Northeast, the place the overwhelming majority of Christians belong to tribal communities.

Listed here are eight key findings about Christians in India, in keeping with a latest Pew Analysis Middle report.

Pew Analysis Middle carried out this evaluation to take a more in-depth have a look at the Christian inhabitants in India. It’s primarily based on the 2021 report “Faith in India: Tolerance and Segregation,” the Middle’s most complete, in-depth exploration of Indian public opinion up to now. For this report, we accomplished 29,999 face-to-face interviews in 17 languages with adults ages 18 and older residing in 26 Indian states and three union territories. The pattern included interviews with 22,975 Hindus, 3,336 Muslims, 1,782 Sikhs, 1,011 Christians, 719 Buddhists and 109 Jains. A further 67 respondents belong to different religions or are religiously unaffiliated. Interviews for this nationally consultant survey have been carried out from Nov. 17, 2019, to March 23, 2020.

Respondents have been chosen utilizing a probability-based pattern design that will permit for sturdy evaluation of all main spiritual teams in India, in addition to all main regional zones. Six teams have been focused for oversampling as a part of the survey design: Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and people residing within the Northeast area. Information was weighted to account for the completely different chances of choice amongst respondents and to align with demographic benchmarks for the Indian grownup inhabitants from the 2011 census.

Listed here are the questions used for this report, together with responses, and its methodology.

Amongst Indians, 0.4% of adults are Hindu converts to Christianity. Conversion is a contentious difficulty in India, and 9 states have enacted legal guidelines towards proselytism as of early 2021. Whereas Christianity is a proselytizing faith, many different religions in India are non-proselytizing, and spiritual conversion is uncommon within the nation. General, simply 2% of respondents report a distinct faith than the one by which they have been raised, together with 0.4% who’re converts to Christianity. Christian converts in India principally are former Hindus, however the survey additionally finds that Hindus have a tendency to achieve as many individuals as they lose via spiritual switching (0.7% of respondents have been raised Hindu and now establish as one thing else, whereas 0.8% have been raised as one thing else however now establish as Hindu). Christian converts in India are disproportionately situated within the South, whereas some are additionally situated within the East. Most converts say they belong to decrease castes – that’s, they establish with Scheduled Castes (typically often called Dalits), Scheduled Tribes or Different Backward Courses. Most converts additionally come from poor backgrounds – i.e., they report not too long ago struggling to pay for meals or different requirements.

There isn’t any clear majority denomination amongst Indian Christians. Whereas many Indian Christians establish as Catholic (37%), quite a lot of different denominations are current in India. For instance, 13% of Indian Christians are Baptists, 7% establish with the Church of North India and one other 7% establish with the Church of South India.

A bar chart showing that most Indian Christians read or listen to the Bible regularly, but fewer hold traditional beliefs

Three-quarters of Indian Christians (76%) say faith is essential of their lives, and Indian Christians interact in quite a lot of conventional beliefs and practices. Almost all Indian Christians (98%) say they consider in God, and Christians in India are extra possible than most different spiritual communities to say they pray day by day (77%). Most Indian Christians additionally attend church weekly (55%), and an awesome share give cash to a church (89%). On the similar time, although 78% of Indian Christians say they learn or hearken to the Bible not less than weekly, smaller shares say they maintain a number of conventional beliefs rooted within the Bible, together with perception in Judgment Day (49%) and miracles (48%).

A bar chart showing that many Indian Christians hold beliefs, engage in practices not traditionally linked with Christianity

Substantial shares of Indian Christians comply with spiritual practices and beliefs not historically related to Christianity. Most Indian Christians say they consider in karma (54%), which isn’t rooted within the Christian faith. And lots of Indian Christians additionally consider in reincarnation (29%) and that the Ganges River has the ability to purify (32%), each of that are core teachings in Hinduism. Additionally it is considerably widespread for Indian Christians to look at customs tied to different religions, like celebrating Diwali (31%) or carrying a brow marking known as a bindi (22%), most frequently worn by Hindu, Buddhist and Jain girls.

Indian Christians disproportionally establish with decrease castes (74%), together with 57% with Scheduled Castes (SC) or Scheduled Tribes (ST). India’s caste system is a social hierarchy that may dictate class and social life, together with whom an individual can marry. Immediately, no matter their faith, Indians practically universally establish with a caste class. Amongst Christians, 33% establish as SC, whereas 24% establish as ST. And Christians are considerably extra possible than the Indian inhabitants general to say there’s widespread caste discrimination in India. For instance, amongst Indians general, 20% say there’s widespread discrimination towards SCs in India, in contrast with 31% amongst Christians who say the identical. A smaller share of Christians (18%) say there’s lots of discrimination towards Christians in India, and even fewer say they’ve personally confronted latest discrimination primarily based on their caste (11%) or faith (10%).

A chart showing that lower-caste Christians more likely to believe in demons, magic

Decrease-caste Indian Christians are more likely than upper-caste (additionally known as Normal Class) Christians to carry each Christian and non-Christian beliefs. Indian Christians who belong to SCs, STs and different decrease castes are inclined to consider in angels and demons at considerably greater charges than upper-caste Christians. For instance, roughly half of lower-caste Christians (51%) consider in demons or evil spirits, whereas simply 12% of higher-caste Christians maintain this perception. Decrease-caste Christians are also extra possible than Normal Class Christians to consider in non secular forces not typically related to Christianity, like karma (58% vs. 44%) and the evil eye (33% vs. 12%).

General, Indian Christians are much less susceptible towards spiritual segregation than another teams. For example, Christians are much less possible than different spiritual teams to say that stopping interreligious marriage is “crucial.”Amongst Christians, 37% say stopping the interreligious marriage of Christian girls is essential, whereas 35% say the identical about Christian males. In distinction, roughly two-thirds of Hindus and a fair higher share of Muslims say it’s essential to cease such marriages by women and men of their respective communities. As well as, fewer Christians (22%) than Hindus (47%) and Muslims (45%) say all of their shut associates share their faith. Partly, these attitudes could replicate Christians’ regional focus within the South, the place opposition to interreligious marriage is usually much less widespread and spiritual segregation general is much less pronounced.

Politically, Christians favor the opposing Indian Nationwide Congress (INC) over the ruling Bharatiya Janata Social gathering (BJP), which is led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and is usually described as selling a Hindu nationalist ideology. A plurality of Christian voters (30%) say they voted for the INC within the 2019 parliamentary elections, which roughly matches the shares of Muslims and Sikhs who voted for the INC. Only one-in-ten Indian Christian voters say they voted for the BJP in 2019, the bottom share amongst all of India’s main spiritual teams. As soon as once more, the voting patterns of Christians in India mirror the political preferences of Southern Indians extra typically. Within the 2019 parliamentary elections, the BJP acquired its lowest vote share within the South, together with amongst Hindus; many individuals within the South, together with Christians, voted for regional events.

Observe: Listed here are the questions used for this report, together with responses, and its methodology.



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