India (MNN) — India deals another blow to religious freedom as four states consider anti-conversion laws. More about that here. Police often use anti-conversion rules to persecute Christians and other religious minorities, putting these groups at risk.
“[Another] state that has one in process is Maharashtra – a well-known state because of Mumbai, the economic and financial capital of India,” John Pudaite of Bibles For The World says.
If state authorities pass the new legislation into law, “close to two-thirds of India’s 1.3 billion people would now be under some anti-conversion law,” Pudaite adds.
Why anti-conversion laws matter
India is one of the world’s most challenging places to follow Christ, according to persecution watchdog groups like Voice of the Martyrs and Open Doors.
Hindu radicals regularly persecute religious minorities. Plus, India’s constitution allows for religious freedom, but authorities target Christian outreach using anti-conversion laws as a pretense.
It puts Bibles For The World partners in a precarious situation. “We’re in touch with [our partners], urging them to continue their outreach but be careful, be cautious,” Pudaite says.
“When we reach out in love and provide blankets, or clothing or food or things like that, [it] can easily be misconstrued by anti-Christians as ‘Oh, they’re enticing [people] with these material goods,’” he explains. More about Bibles For The World’s ministry here.
“It’s unfortunate because they don’t understand – what our partners are offering is a relationship with Jesus Christ.”
How to help
Now that you know, ask the Lord how He wants you to respond. Prayer is the easiest place to start. For believers in states with current or potential anti-conversion laws, pray for wisdom and discernment. Ask the Lord to protect believers in Uttar Pradesh, where police use a new anti-conversion law to arrest religious minorities.
“It was pushed through and signed by the governor of the state [even though] the legislature is not sitting right now; they’re on vacation,” Pudaite says.
“He is allowed to do that for a period of up to six months until the actual state legislature ratifies it.”
Enacting the controversial ‘love jihad’ law was “very significant because [Uttar Pradesh] is the largest state in India. If it were an independent country, this state would be number six or seven in terms of population in the entire world,” Pudaite continues.
“It has the strongest ‘pro-Hindu’ population, so it is a very significant battleground for religious freedoms.”
Header image is a representative stock photo courtesy of Abhishek K. Singh on Unsplash.