Another Indian state passes anti-conversion bill targeting Christians


While India’s Christian minority continues to fear for its safety amid rising attacks, another state, Karnataka, has passed a controversial “anti-conversion” bill, which has routinely been used as a pretext for anti-Christian violence in several other states. The southern Karnataka state’s upper house this week passed the “Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill,” alleging that “forced” religious conversions had become widespread in the state and were leading to mistrust among people, NDTV reported. After the governor’s assent, the bill will immediately become law, although a separate anti-conversion ordinance issued in May has already been in effect. The bill was passed days after the country's Supreme Court issued a directive to eight states, including Karnataka, to verify the claims of Christian groups that filed a petition for protection after around 200 attacks were reported within the first five months of 2022. The court said verification was needed because the federal government had maintained that claims of Christian persecution in India are based on “half-baked and self-serving facts and self-serving articles and reports … based upon mere conjecture.” Last month, the federal interior ministry response to a petition from Christian groups by saying: “There appears to be some hidden oblique agenda in filing such deceptive petitions, creating unrest throughout the country and perhaps for getting assistance from outside the country to meddle with internal affairs of our nation.” While Christians comprise only 2.3% of India’s population and Hindus account for about 80%, nearly a dozen states in the country have enacted anti-conversion laws, claiming that Christians “force” or give money to Hindus to persuade them to convert to Christianity. Anti-conversion laws typically state that no one can use the “threat” of “divine displeasure,” which means Christians can’t talk about Heaven or Hell since it would be seen as luring someone to convert.