Christian groups are concerned that a plan to curb the flow of foreign funds to organizations in India could threaten Christian bodies and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

In a move ostensibly aimed at cutting off financing of terrorist groups from outside sources, the Indian government plans to replace the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) with stringent legislation to curb foreign donations, according to recent news reports.

But Christian bodies fear that more restrictive legislation could lead to a clamp down on foreign donations to legitimate Christian and other organizations unpopular with the government.

"It is quite clear that the government is capitalizing on the current scare about terrorism," said the All India Christian Council (AICC), a lay ecumenical forum, in a recent statement.

"Several ministers and senior government leaders had made it clear that the FCRA [amendment] was being targeted at Muslims and Christians," AICC said in a written appeal to President Kocheril Raman Narayanan last month. The council asked the president not to approve the legislation on foreign contributions.

Although the federal cabinet has not yet recommended an amendment to existing legislation, AICC secretary general John Dayal said he feared a new bill could be introduced in parliament as early as the end of this month.

Ipe Joseph, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI)—a forum of 29 Orthodox and Protestant churches—said: "We are very much concerned if what is reported in the media is true."

"The Union government will soon move a new FCRA to plug loop-holes in existing legislation and enhance [the government's] abilities to monitor the flow of foreign funds to missionaries ...

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