BENGALURU, India — Karnataka has become the 11th state in India to criminalize converting from one religion to another.
The Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill was approved Sept. 15.
This anti-conversion law mandates that anyone desiring to convert from one religion to another must notify authorities 30 days beforehand, states the relief organization Barnabas Fund. The law forbids facilitating conversions by “‘force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means’ or ‘by a promise of marriage.’”
Punishment for violations includes imprisonment for five years and a fine of 25,000 rupees ($315) or more. If the intended convert is a minor, a female or a member of the lowest Hindu caste, the punishment is greater.
Opponents say the law violates Article 25 of India’s constitution, which grants religious freedom.
The “allurement” aspect in Karnataka’s measure makes it different from anti-conversion laws adopted in 10 other Indian states. According to Barnabas Fund, the broad interpretation of “allurement” could even “criminalize the gospel message that repentance and faith in Christ leads to forgiveness of sin and everlasting life.”
India is No. 10 on Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List of places most difficult to be a Christian.
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