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Christian pastor targeted in India for his faith: They call Muslims termites, Christians worse

This was the long-awaited reunion between Bryan Nerren, a Christian pastor from Tennessee, and his loved ones.

Nearly eight months earlier, in October 2019, Nerren couldn't have foreseen that his faith would earn him an eight-hour interrogation with customs officers at Bagdogra airport and over seven months stranded in India.

Asian Children's Education Fellowship
“I was in prison for six days before the American Center for Law and Justice was able to work a deal with the lawyer there in India to get me bail, so I could get out on bail. After I got out on bail, it took seven and a half months for us to go through a very lengthy, very complicated process of dishonesty, corruption, things that were done wrong. They extorted me for money.”

Nerren says he was specifically targeted because of his religion. He says the culprits are part of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), India's current ruling political party, which promotes a brand of radical Hindu nationalism.

Asian Children's Education Fellowship
“They call Muslims termites. Christians are less than that. They feel like they are justified in prosecuting, persecuting, taking advantage of any religion other than radical Hindus.”

Nerren's case is not an isolated one. For the first time, in 2020, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) included India in the top tier of countries with religious persecution. It's an issue Nerren says must be made known at the international level.

Asian Children's Education Fellowship
“There are wonderful, good people, that want just simple things like all of us want. They want to be able to work. They want to be able to make enough money. They want to have freedom. They want to be able to worship the way they want to, and take care of their families, and that's true for the majority of the Hindu people, Muslim people and Christians of India.”

Bryan Nerren is also the president of the Asian Children's Education Fellowship, a nonprofit organization that works in Nepal to form leaders and promote child education as a way out of poverty. 

He says he is grateful for the friends he made during his extended stay in India, as well as for all the prayers for his liberation.