Christian Leaders Speak Out Against India’s Newest Anti-Conversion Law
02/28/2021 India (International Christian Concern) – According to Asia News, Christian leaders in India’s Uttar Pradesh state are speaking out against the passage of a new anti-conversion law. According to this law, the state government will regulate all religious conversions and will punish individuals it deems to be engaged in fraudulent religious conversions.
On February 24, the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly approved the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Bill 2021. According to this law, individual seeking to change their religion for any reason must seek government permission to do so 60 days in advance of their conversion.
The law also criminalizes religious conversions through marriage, deception, coercion, or attraction. Individuals convicted of engaging in fraudulent religious conversions could face a prison sentence of three to 10 years and a fine of 25,000 rupees.
“The anti-conversion law goes against the fundamental right to profess, practice, and spread one’s religion,” Gerald Mathias, Bishop of the Diocese of Lucknow, told Asia News. “It goes against a person’s fundamental freedom to choose and practice a religion of their choice.”
According to Article 25 of India’s constitution, Indian citizens have the fundamental right to profess, practice, and propagate the religion of their choice. The new anti-conversion law in Uttar Pradesh flies directly in the face of this fundamental right.
“It is absurd to get permission from the magistrate if you want to convert to another religion,” Bishop Mathias continued. “It also makes interfaith marriages almost impossible, thus depriving adults of the freedom to choose their partner.”
Bishop Mathias went on to point out that “reconversions” to Hinduism will not be regulated by the new law. Bishop Mathias fears this will give radical Hindu nationalists space to use force, intimidation, and threats to convert low caste Christians and Muslims to Hinduism in ceremonies called Ghar Wapsi.
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