Petition State Governor of India to Drop New Anti-Conversion Measure
The Governor of the State of Jharkhand in India has a big decision to make regarding the thousands of Christians and other religious minorities residing in her state.
Jharkhand Governor Draupadi Murmu must decide on an anti-conversion Bill passed by the State Assembly earlier this month.
If Murmu allows the Bill to become law, she risks putting in harm's way Christians and other religious minorities living in Jharkhand.
Only five states in India now have such laws. But of those five states, two are among the top three states in India where violence against Christians is highest.
Anti-conversion laws are supposed to stop people converting from Hinduism to Christianity. But, what they really do is infringe on the right of an Indian citizen to practise their religion as they see fit...and, to a right to privacy - both of which are guaranteed by India's federal Constitution.
And, India's federal Penal Code, Section 295(A), already deals with the issue of sectarian harmony, and the use of coercion and, or, "allurements" to entice people to convert from Hinduism to Christianity. These laws command stiff penalties, ranging from fines to imprisonment.
It has been mooted that the BJP, India's ruling Hindu Nationalist Party, is seeking to impose its Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) ideology in state law, so as to consolidate its political backing by those who vote for the party strictly for ideological-religious considerations.
In line with that type of thinking, the new Bill is designed to make conversions more difficult because they will be made public - and, therefore, the convert may be subject to intimidation from his or her neighbours, family, colleagues, et al. Indeed, Section 5 of the Bill demands that any convert first seek the permission of the Deputy Commissioner of Jharkhand, and provide the details of the person who is performing the conversion.
Of course, a party, like the BJP, which is reliant on Hindu nationalists for its survival, might try to enact such legislation. But, local Christian leaders have queried the party's evidence of "mass conversions" to Christianity, and insist that the party has not even demonstrated that such conversions are happening at all.
And, if conversions are happening, it has also not been demonstrated, by any substantive study of the issue, that they are occurring for any other reason than for the love of Christ, the promise of eternal life (which is not a bribe or tangible allurement), and, or the loving example shown to them by Christian missionaries.
Now, several local, Christian organisations have joined, together, under the name "Rastriya Isai Mahasangh" (meaning, National Christian Federation), to oppose this measure as they are afraid that it will lead to the harassment of the Church and missionaries.
Therefore, with all of these things in mind, this petition appeals to Jharkhand State Governor, Hon Draupadi Murmu, to return this Bill to the State Assembly, unapproved.
And, to heighten the consideration of our request, this petition is also being Cc'ed to the US Secretary of State, Mr Rex Tillerson, who may be better able to advise on how such measures affect the perception of India in the eyes of Western democracies and business interests.
Thank you for signing this important petition.
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