Official Washington is all atwitter about the state dinner to be given tonight to Indias Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh. There have been newspaper articles filled with stories of guest lists, menus and the anecdotes of past dinner attendees.

India is a large nation, in geography and population. Its friendship with the United States benefits both countries, and all Americans should welcome its respected PM to our shores.

India is also a nation rife with problems that dwarf those in our own: Massive corruption that stultifies economic growth and robs the poor of needed resources; endemic poverty affecting tens of millions; a weak educational system, fraught with caste-system bias; nearly 300 million Dalits, or untouchables, viewed in Hindu theology as sub-human and treated with contempt by their own society. Sexual slavery and human trafficking also present profound and enduring challenges to all conscientious Indian political leaders.

Religious persecution in India is also on the rise. Such Web sites as Open Doors, Catholic Online and Voice of the Martyrs provide chilling descriptions of what happens to Christians who stand for their faith in areas where devout Hindu and Muslim activists are determined to squash Christian faith violently.

Consider just one example, this one detailed in the UKs Guardian newspaper:

"We cannot now return to the village as the murderers would be on the streets with more hatred and anger for us." So said a witness after testifying last month in a courtroom in Kandhamal district in India's eastern state of Orissa, which was the scene last year of ferocious violence against Christians carried out by mobs incited by extremist Hindu nationalists. The case saw three men acquitted of hacking to death a non-Christian tribal leader who tried to stand up to the mobs, and burning to death an elderly widow. They were convicted for destroying evidence, but sent home on bail, pending appeal. (Orissas Forgotten Victims, November 23, 2009).

Family Research Council hopes that President Obama will raise the issue of anti-Christian persecution with Prime Minister Singh. To PM Singhs credit, he has made strong statements against anti-Christian violence, noting that Christianity is part of Indias national heritage (www.oikumen.org/gr/news, October 20, 2008) and condemned the anti-Christian assaults in the province of Orissa (www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com, August 29, 2008).

But as events of recent days indicate, much more must be done. It is in Americas interest for us to press our friends to live to the principles of human dignity and religious liberty to which they are sworn. By doing so, we are standing true to our own principles, and standing with those suffering for owning the Name of Jesus.