Anti-Conversion Law Proposed in India

("Charisma News Service", November 1999)

A proposed law that would make it illegal for anyone to convert or attempt to convert someone else by use of "force or allurement" is a politically motivated attempt to end religious freedom, says the All India Christian Council (AICC). The private member's bill has been introduced in the Gujarat state government, and a similar move is said to be possible nationally.

AICC chairman Joseph D'Souza said that the bill "makes a mockery" of Indians whatever their social or religious background. "It says that the ordinary Indian is not capable to decide for himself in regard to matters of conscience, which are personal and private," he said, calling on secular groups across the country to challenge the proposal.

The government has launched an attack on Christian and non-Christian nongovernmental organizations, he added, serving "arbitrary notices, which contain baseless charges to many groups." D'Souza said: "We have predicted that Christian groups will be harassed and intimidated, and it is happening."

In addition, there had been a "deliberate campaign of disinformation" about Christian groups involved in social development work, with questions being asked about the overseas funding they receive. Meanwhile Hindu groups receiving money from abroad were free to use the funds they received to carry on their "campaign of hate, terror and destruction," said D'Souza.

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