Most Christians in India believe in Karma, which is not rooted in their religion but closely related to Hindus. About 54 per cent of the Christians say so and a 29 per cent of them believe in reincarnation. This has come up in a latest survey by the PEW Research Centre.
The report pointed out that about 32 per cent of the Indian Christians believed that the Ganges River has the power to purify, which is found in Hinduism. Moreover, the report stated that the Christians observed customs related to other religions such as celebrating Diwali (31 per cent) or wearing a forehead marking called a bindi (22 percent). Women belonging to Hindu usually wear the Bindi.
South India is home to about half of the Christians and they make up a relatively large share of people in sparsely populated Northeast, where the vast majority of Christians belong to tribal communities.
Most of the Christian converts in India are former Hindus, the PEW report said. It says that 0.4 per cent of adults are Hindu converts to Christianity. However, the survey found that Hindus tend to gain as many people as they lose through religious switching. The PEW Centre says that most of the converts are disproportionately located in the Southern parts and some are also seen in the Eastern parts. Most of the converts belong to lower castes (Scheduled Castes Scheduled Tribes or Other Backward Classes). Most of the converts also have poor backgrounds.
Majority of the Christians in India are Catholic (37 per cent). The survey mentioned that 13 per cent are Baptists, seven per cent Church of North India and Church of South India respectively.
The survey found that 98 per cent of the Indian Christians believe in God. They also pray daily (77 per cent) more than any other people. Most Indian Christians also attend church weekly (55 per cent). Apart from this, the survey also found that 89 per cent of the believers gave money to church.
LOWER CASTE IDENTIFICATION
About 74 per cent of the respondents identify themselves with lower castes. This includes 57 per cent of Scheduled Castes (SC) or Scheduled Tribes (ST). Of this, 33 per cent identify as SC and 24 per cent identify as ST. The Christians are also more likely to say there is widespread caste discrimination in India. About 31 per cent of the respondents say that there is widespread discrimination. The PEW also found that Christians belonging to SCs, STs and other lower castes tend to believe in angels and demons at a higher rate than upper-caste Christians. About 51 per cent of lower caste Christians believes in demons or evil spirits. However, only 12 per cent of higher-caste has this belief. Lower-caste are more likely than General Category Christians to believe in spiritual forces not generally associated with Christianity, like karma.
Thirty seven per cent among Christians say stopping inter-religious marriage of their women is very important. However, 35 per cent say the same about men. In contrast, roughly two-thirds of Hindus and an even greater share of Muslims say it is crucial to stop such marriages by men and women in their respective communities.