International (MNN) — Even though it played a major role in the founding of the United States, religious freedom is a distant thought for most Americans. However, an upcoming roundtable discussion will make religious freedom a priority again.
According to John Pudaite of Bibles For The World, the freedom to follow Christ is a rare luxury in today’s world.
“There are so many things going on that are unreported or squelched in countries like India, the Middle East, Africa; places where those things just don’t see the light of day.”
At a recent roundtable discussion, Pudaite and others met with Samuel Brownback, the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.
“It was an opportunity for us to talk about places like India and Nepal, and that part of the world…I was able to talk specifically about the anti-conversion laws,” Pudaite recounts.
“They (government leaders) say they have freedom of religion, which is constitutionally guaranteed, but [people are] not allowed to change their religion, which is a tremendous paradox and totally goes against the idea of religious freedom.”
Religious freedom restrictions
Anti-conversion laws “have been [spreading] across India state-by-state,” says Pudaite. “Now, 7 or 8 states do not allow people to convert from one religion to another.”
Countless non-profit organizations working in India are being subjected to the equivalent of an IRS audit. Oftentimes, Pudaite says, these “hassles” are the government’s way of stopping Gospel growth.
In a troubling turn of events, a similar pattern is emerging in Nepal.
Bibles For The World provides God’s Word where people have little or no access to the Bible in their own language. In Nepal, BFTW partners with local believers to provide 3 million Gospels and John and Nepali New Testaments.
Last week, these Nepali partners shared their growing concerns with Pudaite.
“The government is starting to put pressure on them and this is even before the implementation [of a new anti-conversion law] so that’s got me a little concerned,” Pudaite says.
“I think it’s going to be a lot like India where the government will use the letter of the law, the machinery of the law, to try and ‘squeeze’ Christian organizations.”
Later this month, Ambassador Brownback is once again meeting with foreign ministers, religious leaders, and international organizational leaders like Pudaite to address concerns like these. (Learn more about the meeting here.)
Would you cover this upcoming meeting in prayer?
Please pray for the upcoming Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. Pray Ambassador Brownback and his team will receive accurate and up-to-date information regarding the state of religious freedom worldwide.
Pray that anti-conversion laws in India and Nepal will not hinder national believers from sharing their faith. Finally, pray for Bibles For The World and other Great Commission-focused organizations serving in South Asia. Ask the Lord to bless their efforts and help them reach many people for Christ.