STOYAN ZAIMOV, CHRISTIAN POST
The Indian state of Jharkhand reportedly passed on Saturday a controversial anti-conversion bill, which pastors and persecution watchdog groups say aims to stop Christian witness and “ruin the lives of people.”
“The anti-conversion law will ruin the lives and the witness of the church,” an anonymous local pastor in Ranchi told International Christian Concern.
“The BJP, having the power both at the national level and the state, wants to implement its Hindutva ideology. This bill will further divide the people of Jharkhand, particularly divide the tribal people who lived in unity for ages,” he added, referring to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
The Jharkhand Freedom of Religion Bill-2017, as the legislation is called, bans people from attempting to convert others “by use of force or by allurement or by any fraudulent means,” with punishments including up to three years in prison.
The bill is not yet law, and requires the signature of the governor and the president.
“This is very unfortunate for the people of Jharkhand,” said the Rev. Dr. Man Maish Ekka, a member of the Jharkhand Sadbhavana Munch, a local religious freedom forum. “This is not just an attack on Christians, but is an attack on the religious freedom that the constitution gives to very citizens of this country. The motive of the bill is to divide the tribal people and break their unity.”