Relaymedia

Radio Ministry Still Concerned with Indian Anti-conversion Bill

Though the latest anti-conversion law in the Indian state of Rajasthan has been struck down, a Christian radio ministry continues to voice concern.
( [email protected] ) May 25, 2006 12:45 PM EDT

Though the latest anti-conversion law in the Indian state of Rajasthan has been struck down, a Christian radio ministry continues to voice concern.

Rajasthan’s female governor, Pratiba Patil, refused to sign the so-called Rajasthan Dharma Swatantrya (Freedom of Religion) Bill 2006, Tuesday.

The Rajasthan state cabinet, nonetheless, will likely send the bill back to the governor after changing a few parts in the legislation.

Lee Deyoung, vice president of Words of Hope (WOH), said in Mission Network News – an online missions journal – that he was concerned about the impact an anti-conversion will have in Rajasthan.

“It could even be that they might eventually try to charge a radio broadcaster with this,” said Deyoung, though he added that it would be harder to implicate a radio station since it has “no obvious direct involvement” with conversions.

The propose bill states that any conversion by "force," "fraud" or "allurement" is prohibited and would result in an immediate arrest without investigation, a two to five year prison term, and a fine no less than $1,100 USD.

In the past, Hindu militants have accused missionaries of coercing people in converting to Christianity, often on shoddy evidence, according to various Christian persecution watchdogs.

In other instances, extremists have been known to try to reconvert Christian converts back to the Hindu religion through physical assault and violent threats.

In April, Hindu extremists attacked two Christian schools and a private Christian gathering, and attacked Christians in the Madhya Pradesh state after accusing them of carrying out “illegal conversions.”

Seven states in India have already passed a similar anti-conversion legislation. WOH hopes that the situation in Rajasthan governor would reject the revised bill, according to a Compass Direct, a persecution watchdog.

“We will continue to monitor the situation. Words of Hope will seek to continue our broadcasting, but we'll of course, be very careful in how we interact with people inside the country,” said Deyoung.