NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Shelbyville pastor was arrested while traveling in India for a conference in early October.
Pastor Bryan Nerren was traveling with two other Tennessee pastors when he was stopped by a security agent in New Delhi due to the amount of money he was carrying. American Center for Law and Justice, who is representing Nerren, said he was carrying the funds to cover for the two conferences and the money needed for the 13 ministers during their two-week long trip.
ACLJ said Nerren was eventually cleared by the agent after an hour of questioning and allowed to fly to Bagdogra, India.
When he landed, Nerren was arrested by customs for violating the Foreign Exchange Management Act. The ACLJ says it is not illegal to posses the money or travel with them, but the necessary document to account for the funds was not provided.
According to the ACLJ, Nerren was never told by officials in New Delhi that any forms needed to be filled out.
Nerren was taken in Siliguri, India, where he was put in jail and not allowed any visitation. The ACLJ said he was hospitalized due to heath conditions during his six days in jail.
After being released on bail, Nerren's passport was held and a travel ban was placed on him. His hearing, which was originally scheduled for October 22, was rescheduled for December 12.
The ACLJ said Nerren''s arrest was due to his Christian faith.
"Pastor Nerren complied with all requests from Indian officials in good faith. He followed all protocols he was given. He was cleared and freed to go by New Delhi Customs, yet he is essentially being held hostage in India for his Christian faith. He deserves to come home to America," the organization said.
In a press release, ACLJ said Nerren was asked in New Delhi if he was a Christian and if the money was going to be used to support Christian causes.
The ACLJ is now in contact with the State Department and Congress in an effort to bring Nerren home.
The U.S. government has classified India as a Tier 2 nation for intolerance. In its 2019 annual report, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom said religious freedom conditions in India have continued on a downward trend. The country has just over a 2 percent Christian population.