US lawmakers voice concerns over India's restrictions on Christian charity

(Photo: REUTERS / Adnan Abidi)A man takes part in a religion conversion ceremony from Christianity to Hinduism at Hasayan town in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh August 29, 2014. Picture taken August 29, 2014.

The Indian government's decision to clamp down on Colorado-based Christian charity organization Compassion International has raised questions from American lawmakers belonging to both the Republican and Democratic parties.

Members of non-governmental organization appeared before a Congressional hearing to appeal before it to persuade India to change its policies on foreign funds of NGOs after it faces governmental accusations of converting people to Christianity.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is considered by many Indians to be a Hindu fundamentalist party.

Congressman Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee said, "It is my hope that by bringing attention to this issue, as were doing here today, the 145,000 children will not be tragically denied the services they desperately need, and that American families....can continue to send the $38 a month for food and education fees to the poorest of the poor."

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Compassion's website defines its mission: "Our three Cs distinguish us. Christ Centered. Child Focused. Church Based," Z News reports.

Fund transfers to Compassion International in India were stalled after the Indian government made it mandatory for all NGOs to get permission before financially supporting local groups, The American Bazaar reported.

The action came after the authorities said they found that the NGO was using foreign funds for religious conversions.

In its plea to the Congressional members of the House of Foreign Affairs Committee, Compassion International said it will be forced to stop its India operations soon. This follows from the current severe policies proposed India's government, which has barred the transfer of funds to 580 partner organizations.

CI official Stephen Oakley told the Committee that the organization is willing to work with the Indian government to address concerns regarding conversions.

Compassion started operating in India operations in 1968 and over the last 48 years it has worked among children to break the cycle of poverty.

The U.S.-based NGO has made fund transfers worth $50 million a year in humanitarian aid to India, funding nearly sponsored children in some of Indian's most impoverished and remote regions.

It has a few hundreds of staff members and more than 580 child development centers in the country.

Compassion claims that its model of working is unique from other NGOs.

It works exclusively with local churches it sees best equipped to understand and meet the unique needs of children in their communities.

The reason the NGO does this is due to the moral and spiritual values that the worldwide church shares with those of Compassion and its donors.

Compassion has accused the Indian government of wrongly interpreting the functioning of the NGO.

It says the "government has wrongly accused Compassion of engaging in illegal conversions.

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