Draft Anti-Conversion Law Approved by State Government in India
11/28/2020 India (International Christian Concern) – On November 24, India’s Uttar Pradesh state has approved the draft of a controversial law that would check unlawful religious conversions. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has brought forward the law to counter what it calls a “love jihad” against the state’s Hindu community.
The law’s actual name is Vidhi Virod Darmantaran Act 2020 and is essentially an anti-conversion law targeting the state’s Muslim and Christian communities. Similar laws have been enacted in eight other states in India, called Freedom of Religion Acts. These laws are often abused to harass the Christian minority.
Last year, a law commission in Uttar Pradesh submitted a draft law called the Uttar Pradesh Freedom of Religion bill 2019 which included a provision stating that any religious conversion done for the purpose of marriage would be illegal. It also criminalized any forced religious conversion. On November 24, this provision was cleared by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
“In the long term, its bigger victim will be Christian evangelization,” Dr. John Dayal told International Christian Concern (ICC). “This may almost be the death knell of the independent or the itinerant pastor.”
“Anyone can bring about a charge and the pastor will be culpable,” Dr. Dayal continued. “Uttar Pradesh does not have the MP-Chharisgarh Anti Conversion Law, though the entire state police force in Uttar Pradesh seems to believe it exists. This will further empower the police and the thugs.”
Historically, wherever anti-conversion laws are enacted there has been rise in the incidents of anti-Christian violence. Christians in Uttar Pradesh are concerned the approved draft law could push religious minorities into a more hostile situation.
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