The chief minister of Karnataka State in South India, Basavaraj Bommai, has confirmed that the state government intends to introduce a new anti-conversion law to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly scheduled to meet on 13 December. If passed, Karnataka would be the tenth Indian state to criminalise conversions carried out through force, fraud or allurement.
South India has historically been more ‘Christian’ than the north of India. Due to its religious stability, the state capital Bangalore is home to many Christian churches, seminaries and national organisations. A senior pastor there, reports that “Our state government is clearly doing nothing as persecution of Christians escalates. The new anti conversion law will be used to barge into all Christian churches and institutions to check all our documents and activities.”
Barnabas Fund has reported that penalties brought in with such laws in other states include a prison term of three to ten years and fines of between £250-£500, with larger fines for people convicted of using marriage as a means of conversion. Anyone who wishes to officially change religion, along with religious officiates (such as pastors) performing the conversion, will be required to apply to the district administration 60 days in advance.
Some suggest the legislation is designed to curb the so-called “Love-Jihad” operations of Muslim organisations who lure non-Muslim girls into marriage with Muslim men, which obliges the brides to convert to Islam in accordance with sharia (Islamic law).
Most Christian churches and organisations expect much disruption.
This has already started. In advance of the legislation thugs (‘goons’ as they are called, though ‘thug’ also comes from the ‘thugees’ in India) are entering churches when worship is about to begin or in progress and singing Hindu bhajans ( worship chants) to occupy the Christian worship space. They would not dare do it with muslims in the mosques because they know they would be beaten up.
But in the churches, women are resisting and pushing these men out.