Rajasthan Considers Anti-Conversion Law: Potential Threats For Indian Christians

Farrukh Saif

July 8, 2024

Rajasthan Considers Anti-Conversion Law: Potential Threats For Indian Christians

Proposed legislation in a North Indian state triggers debate on religious freedom and minority rights. Rajasthan, a state in northern India known for its rich cultural heritage, is now at the center of a contentious religious debate. The state government is considering the implementation of an anti-conversion law, a move that could significantly impact religious minorities, particularly Christians, in the region.

If enacted, Rajasthan would become the 11th out of 28 Indian states to have such legislation. The proposed law aims to prevent what the government describes as fraudulent and forceful religious conversions, a concern that has been growing in various parts of India.

The state government recently informed the Supreme Court that it is in the process of proposing this law, assuring that it would strictly adhere to any related guidelines set by the court. This move comes in response to a 2022 public interest litigation seeking measures to control alleged religious conversions.

Anti-conversion laws: A Tool To Target Christians

Anti-conversion laws in India typically target Christian missionaries and churches that invite converts from other faiths. These conversions are often attributed to personal convictions or claimed miraculous healings, which some right-wing groups and anti-Christian organizations argue are false or coerced.

The implementation of such a law in Rajasthan could have several potential impacts on Christians:

Increased scrutiny: Christian activities, particularly those related to evangelism or providing aid, may face heightened scrutiny and potential legal challenges.

Notification requirements: Based on similar laws in other states, individuals intending to convert or those involved in conversion activities might be required to notify government authorities.

Legal consequences: Violations of the proposed law could result in fines and imprisonment, as seen in other states with similar legislation.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom:

The law could potentially infringe on the right to freely practice and propagate one’s faith, a concern raised by religious minorities and human rights advocates.

It’s worth noting that anti-conversion laws in India have been controversial, with critics arguing that they can be misused to target religious minorities. In some cases, these laws have faced legal challenges. For instance, the Himachal Pradesh High Court struck down certain provisions of that state’s anti-conversion law in 2007, citing violations of constitutional rights.

As Rajasthan considers this legislation, it remains to be seen how it will balance concerns about fraudulent conversions with the protection of religious freedoms guaranteed under India’s constitution. The debate surrounding this proposed law highlights the ongoing tensions between religious freedom, minority rights, and concerns about proselytization in India’s diverse and complex spiritual landscape.

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Farrukh Saif

Farrukh H. Saif, a courageous Christian human rights activist, established the Farrukh Saif Foundation in 2009 to confront religious discrimination, blasphemy laws, and bonded slavery in Pakistan. His dedication to liberating bonded laborers from brick kilns and advocating for blasphemy victims and asylum seekers has garnered international acclaim. Despite encountering threats and fatwas, his impactful work persists in supporting marginalized communities. In 2018, the foundation merged with The Emergency Committee to Save the Persecuted and Enslaved, enhancing its global outreach.

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