Date: September 28, 2012
The court struck down a section of the law which makes it mandatory for any person seeking to convert to go and give prior notice to local authorities before being baptized. The judges also ruled against another section which mandates the state to inquire into every conversion.
Mawii Pudaite with Bibles For the World agrees with the Asia News assessment that the ruling "upheld and protected the constitution" and recognized that everyone has "a right to choose his or her religion."
Himachal Pradesh's case could set precedent throughout India. Pudaite explains, "Currently, anti-conversion laws are enforced in five states: Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, and Gujarat. In Arunachal Pradesh and Rajasthan, the laws have been passed but not yet implemented."
According to Open Doors, choice and the freedom to choose are the most important legal principles to emerge from the ruling. Pudaite says, "Pray that God will move in a wonderful way in the great land of India and that multiplied millions will find The Way, the Truth, and the Life. Here in the USA, everyone in every state enjoys freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and so on. It's so easy to take these privileges for granted."
However, the rise of Hindu nationalism could still make things very tricky for Christian workers. What remains of the law is loosely worded, leaving the definitions of "force" or "allurement" open to a wide interpretation. Still, Pudaite says, it's the break their team needed. "With this anti-conversion law being repealed, this is the time to move in."
There is a Bible distribution project in the works. Pudaite says, "We've got 250,000 copies of the Hindi Bible to be given out to the new converts in North India." It means greater exposure. Thus far, "It has been mostly in Punjabi...and Chhattisgarh will read in Hindi, and of course, English for the English-speaking people."
There has been a spike in persecution this year. Religious rights watchdogs attribute it to the growth of the Christian Church.
Please pray that India will continue to recognize and respect the religious freedom of citizens to worship, gather together, and evangelize. Pray that in the meantime, Christians in India will be bold in their faith despite threat of persecution.
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