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Published on 15 November, 2007

Anti-conversion legislation in India keeps Christians vigilant

India (MNN) — Hindu nationalists have been
frustrated in their bid strengthen an already stringent anti-conversion bill in
Chhattisgarh State, India. 

One amendment would have required a person who wants
to change his religion to report those intentions to government officials at
least 30 days in advance. The government would then have the right to grant or
deny the request.  

The governor also openly opposed another clause in
the amendment which exempted people from the law if they are reverting from
Christianity or Islam back to their native religion. The amendments target religious conversions
classified as "occurring by force or allurement."

Dave Stravers of Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission
India
explains, "A law like this needs to be confirmed by the governor.
Just two days ago (Monday), the governor vetoed the bill."

Christians claim the bill violated the Indian
Constitution's religious freedom clause. Although
they make up less than one percent of the nearly 21 million residents of
Chhattisgarh, they have been effective in ministry. A strong anti-conversion law would have jeopardized
many evangelistic projects. "So," says
Stravers, "Christians are rejoicing that this prospect of a strong
anti-conversion law is not going to happen in Chhattisgarh."

Mission India has multiple literacy classes in the
state. Stravers says one was recently shut
down by militants, but one woman refused to be intimidated. 

32-year
old Rani joined Mission India's Adult Literacy program earlier this year and
was pleased about everything she was learning. She became a Christian, and a
worship group started out of this literacy class.

Extremists
from the Bajrang Dal group stormed into the literacy center and questioned the
group. The students explained they were learning to read and write, but the
extremists harassed them and forced them to drink alcohol. The literacy
students were shaken and decided to stop the worship service.

After several days of silence, Rani had had enough. She walked to the homes of the literacy
students and persuaded them to attend the worship services. She reminded them
that they were worshipping a true and living God who would take care of them
and help them.

Her determination encouraged others who, despite
the threat against them, "rrestarted their classes, and they're doing
their Sunday worship again as they did before and just trusting God to protect
them." Stravers says, "To me, it just
illustrates the point when people say, 'How can I pray?' of course we say,
'Pray for protection.' But especially, pray that people will have
courage."

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About India

  • Primary Language: Hindi
  • Primary Religion: Hinduism
  • Evangelical: 2.2%
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