In India, a Tremendous Breakthrough for Religious Freedom
- By Alan Sears
- Posted Sep 11, 2012
- No Comments »
In the Himachal Pradesh Province of India, “Freedom of Religion” has had a very different meaning than the one we cherish in America.
For years, under a law oddly-titled “The Freedom of Religion Act,” the province has required that anyone converting to Christianity (or any other faith) had to notify the local magistrate and have the decision made public record within 30 days. Anyone converting to Hinduism – or reverting back to that religion from a previous conversion – was exempt from this requirement.
The law was a Catch-22 for Christians – indeed, it was intended to be. If a Christian failed to register their decision, they were subject to prosecution and legal sanctions. If they did register, they opened themselves up to retaliation, harassment, and in many cases, violent reprisals. Either way, a Christian would be punished for abandoning Hinduism. (Can you imagine the United States Government maintaining a mandatory register of your faith and church membership?)
Alliance Defending Freedom Allied Attorneys recently presented arguments questioning the constitutionality of the law on behalf of Evangelical Fellowship of India. The High Court of the province agreed with those arguments, and on August 30, issued a ruling striking down the oppressive and discriminatory law.
In its ruling, the court said that “each and every citizen of this country has a right not only to follow his own beliefs but also has a right to change his beliefs.”
“A person’s belief or religion is something very personal to him,” the judges added. “The State has no right to ask a person to disclose what is his personal belief,” especially when “the chances of the convertee being subjected to physical and psychological torture cannot be ruled out.”
“No one should be targeted for violence, inhumane treatment, and religious discrimination simply because of their faith,” says Legal Counsel Tehmina Arora, one of our Allied Attorneys, who is based in New Delhi. “The law should not give aggressors a legal way to fuel religious persecution of new Christians. The court was right to strike down this unconstitutional law, which was clearly designed to discourage conversion to faiths like Christianity.”
Earlier this year, Alliance Defending Freedom Allied Attorneys succeeded in blocking attempts by supporters of the law to become official parties in the case. Senior Advocate Sudhir Nandrajog – assisted by advocates Arora, P.K. Singh, and Robin David – argued the case before the high court.
Like Arora, Singh and David are among the nearly 2,200 Allied Attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom – a vital part of the alliance you make possible with your prayerful support. In helping them protect the God-given freedoms of the people of India, you are helping keep the door open to the spread of the Gospel throughout the world, as well as enabling us to build an ever-stronger legal defense against the all-too-many judges in America who are enamored of citing international law as precedent for eroding the freedoms you and your family cherish.
Please join me in praying for all of our Allied Attorneys overseas, as they work tirelessly to secure the blessings of religious liberty for their fellow citizens, and for American Christians, as well.
Author: Alan Sears