By BosNewsLife News Center
NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) — There was concern Saturday, July 29 over the situation of the Christian minority in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh amid fears the government's decision to strengthen controversial anti-conversion legislation will further encourage violence against Christians.
The amendment to the law stipulates that "prospective converts" and religious priests must notify a district magistrate of the intent to change religion one month before a conversion "ceremony". Parliament passed the law Tuesday, July 25, despite uproar from opposition Congress Party members.
"It is deeply disturbing that the Madhya Pradesh state government has signalled its intent to continue obstructing the religious freedom of its citizens, in violation of international standards," said Mervyn Thomas, the Chief Executive of UK-based religious rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) in a statement to BosNewsLife.
The political developments come as CSW's Quarterly Report into violence against Christians in India suggests that in states where anti-conversion laws were introduced "a hostile climate" was created towards evangelizing, a key element of evangelical Christianity.
"Not only does anti-conversion legislation appear to create a hostile climate for minority religious activities, but there also remains a broader assumption across other states about the illegitimacy of religious proselytism," the report says.
It also highlights the perceived "failure of justice procedures in protecting Christians in some states, and the complicity or even involvement of police in some attacks."
The attacks are often carried out by militants linked to a variety of influential Hindu groups who have condemned the spread of Christianity especially among 'Dalits', seen as the "lowest caste" in India's system of Hinduism. Christians comprise just over two percent of India's predominantly Hindu population of nearly 1.1 billion people.
Thomas told BosNewsLife that "even the existence of anti-conversion legislation appears to give confidence to the perpetrators of violence against religious minorities…We call on the government of India to intervene for the repeal of all state anti-conversion laws across the country."
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