India: Religious conversion ban threatening Christians may be expanded
The Hindu nationalist government of the northern state of Haryana has pledged to enact a law to regulate religious conversions that would lead to the arrest of Christians who share their faith, talk about heaven or hell, or perform charity work for lower caste Hindus. The draconian "anti-conversion" laws, termed as Freedom of Religion Acts, presume that Christian workers "force" or give financial benefits to Hindus to convert them to Christianity.
Manohar Lal Khattar, Haryana’s chief minister, said this week his administration would introduce a bill against religious conversion by force, marriages, or through inducement for the specific purpose of adopting a religion, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern said, quoting Indian newspapers.
“While one has the right to adopt any religion, conversion by force, inducement, etc. are not tolerable. The Right to Freedom of Religion Bill will be brought in, in which there will be provisions against conversion by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, inducement, marriage, or any fraudulent means,” Khattar was quoted as saying.
While these laws have been in place for decades in some states, no Christian has been convicted of “forcibly” converting anyone to Christianity. However, these laws allow Hindu nationalist groups to make false charges against Christians and launch attacks on them under the pretext of the alleged forced conversion.
Some of those laws state that no one is allowed to use the “threat” of “divine displeasure,” meaning Christians cannot talk about heaven or hell, as that would be seen as “forcing” someone to convert. And if snacks or meals are served to Hindus after an evangelistic meeting, that could be seen as “inducement.”
“Since the current ruling party took power in 2014, incidents against Christians have increased, and Hindu radicals often attack Christians with little to no consequences,” noted Open Doors’ World Watch List, which ranked India as the 10th worst country for Christians.
Source and image: christianpost.com