Christian Leaders in India Oppose Enactment of New Anti-Conversion Law

10/20/2021 India (International Christian Concern) – According to the Deccan Herald, the Karnataka Region Catholic Bishops Council has opposed the enactment of a new anti-conversion law in India’s Karnataka state. In recent weeks, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politicians have called for the enactment of an anti-conversion law in Karnataka and an official investigation into all Christian missionaries.

Since independence, there has been hardly any increase in the number of Christians and this Bill is all made out to suit the political agenda of some political parties,” the Council said in a letter to Karnataka’s Chief Minister, Basavaraj Bommai.

Last week, Chief Minister Bommai and other state leaders announced they were considering enacting an anti-conversion law in Karnataka. The announcement followed anti-Christian statements made by BJP MLA Goolihatti Shekar who claimed there are rampant illegal conversions to Christianity happening in Karnataka.

If the bill is passed in the Assembly and translated into a law, we fear that it will give way for large-scale uncontrolled communal conflagrations,” the Council continued. “Fringe elements and communal forces will be let loose and take the law into their own hands.

In addition to considering the enactment of an anti-conversion law, the Backward Classes and Minorities Welfare Committee of Karnataka ordered an investigation into all official and non-official Christian missionaries in Karnataka. While the stated goal of the investigation is still unclear, Christians fear this investigation will be used to further support the enactment of the anti-conversion law.

Across India, radical Hindu nationalists use the specter for mass conversions to Christianity and Islam to enact laws limiting the religious freedom of minorities. According to these nationalists, masses of low caste Hindus are converted to Christianity and Islam through illicit means and a law must be enacted to stop this from happening.

Article 25 of India’s constitution, however, protects the rights an individual to freely profess, practice, and propagate the religion of their choice. Anti-conversion laws limit this constitutional right by requiring individuals to have their conversions approved by the government. In addition to this, individuals from low caste backgrounds face the consequence of losing government benefits when converting from Hinduism to Christianity or Islam.

Radical Hindu nationalists also use anti-conversion laws as legal cover when persecuting Christians and closing churches. After assaulting a pastor or disrupting a church service, radicals falsely accused their victims of engaging in conversions to justify their criminal actions. As a result, police arrest the Christians and allow the radicals to go free.

For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: [email protected].

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