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The Sri Lanka anti-conversion bill is sent to committee.

By May 13, 2005

Sri Lanka (MNN)–One of two anti-conversion bills has been referred to a standing committee in Sri Lanka’s Parliament. That means it is likely to undergo revision before going back for a final reading and a vote. It’s a small reprieve for believers.

Voice of the Martyrs’ Todd Nettleton says what happens next is a matter of prayer. “Obviously, it has to come out of this committee first and go before the full parliament.”

Under Sri Lankan parliamentary procedure, the bill can be referred to committee in its entirety or selected clauses can be referred. Nettleton says because of protocol, there’s a little time. “As I said, the Supreme Court has already said the law, as it is written right now, is unconstitutional. So there’s going to have to be some amendments, or some changes before the full parliament can approve it. It remains to be seen what’s going to come out of this committee.”

Nettleton says the obvious impact would be harshest on missionaries and other related evangelical groups. “What it says is it prohibits forcible conversion of religion, but under the law, the most strict reading, really, almost any person who encourages somebody to convert, would be guilty of some form of ‘forcible conversion’.”

The law requires those who convert from one religion to another to inform the local authorities within a prescribed period. Failure to do so means jail for up to five years or a fine of up to 150,000 Rupees ($1,500 USD).

Continue to pray for believers, that their ability to practice their faith will be unhindered, and that the law would fail.

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