Haryana is the 11th Indian State to Introduce the Law
03/09/2022 India (International Christian Concern) – The BJP-led State Assembly in the state of Haryana has introduced an anti-conversion bill which, if approved by the governor, would make Haryana the 11th state in India to introduce an anti-conversion law.
The bill’s language prohibits religious conversions effected through misrepresentation or fraudulent means such as by force, undue influence, coercion, allurement, or marriage. The law also mandates that individuals converting from one religion to another submit a statement that the conversion was not through any of the prohibited means.
“We are increasingly concerned about India’s anti-conversion laws,” said ICC President Jeff King. “These laws are primarily used to suppress and persecute Christians. Such legislation only emboldens the Hindu nationalists to attack Christians and suppress the freedom of religion. The international community cannot ignore these draconian measures used to attack the Church and other religious minorities.”
Similar laws exist in nine other states: Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakand, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Arunachal Pradesh. Those state governments have not defined the terms “inducement,” “coercion,” “force,” or “fraud” in the context of religious conversions. Because of this legal ambiguity, these laws have been widely abused by radical Hindu nationalist groups to harass and intimidate Christians while claiming to be under the auspices of state law.
A local pastor in Haryana, who requested anonymity, told International Christian Concern (ICC), “There has been a gradual shutdown of house churches in the region where I live through threats and violence. The new law will be one more step to validate what they have been doing to Christians. it is going to be difficult, not because of the content of the law, but how the law can be misused to target innocent Christians.”
Dr. John Dayal, a prominent voice of the Christian community in India, said, “The bill in Haryana climbs a couple of steps higher than even the terrible Karnataka law that precipitated a massive civil society protest and grassroots movement.”
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