A state in India has approved a law with harsh penalties against religious conversion by deception, coercion, or marriage.
Under the Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act 2019, anyone convicted can face one to five years in prison, seven if it involves the conversion of Dalits, women and minors.
“Anti-conversion laws are a tool to harass vulnerable Christians,” Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, told Asia News.
Dalits (or “untouchables”), women and children suffer terrible human rights abuses in India. Christianity is attractive because of the core belief that we are all created equal by God. Jesus teachings and treatment of women, children, different classes and nationalities models God’s love for all kinds of people.
As Paul explained in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Christians are often falsely accused of converting people through fraud, force or allurement.
The law requires potential converts and religious leaders involved in their conversion to declare their intention in a letter to the district magistrate one month before their conversion. This is not required of anyone who converts back to their original religion.
“The new law contains some terms that were in absent in the past, such as coercion, misrepresentation, marriage, excessive influence, said Sajan K. George.
Anti-conversion laws “discriminate against religious minorities. They can plant seeds of sectarian suspicion among communities that have lived together in a peaceful manner and can be used against the weakest in society, in particular Dalits, women and children,” he said.
Himachal Pradesh, a state in northern India, is led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the political party of India’s Prime Minister Modi
- Anti-conversion laws to be overturned.
- Christians to be blessed as they share their faith.
- God to use these tribulations to bring glory to Him