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Criminalizing healing prayers proposed in India

In Assam, a state in India, a proposed bill could criminalize the act of praying for the sick with the intent of conversion, reflecting a broader trend of increasing regulations on religious practices. This legislation is part of a series of measures across several Indian states aimed at curtailing religious conversions, which critics argue targets Christian and Muslim minorities. The bill proposes a jail term for violators, emphasizing the growing tensions between religious freedom and anti-conversion laws in the country.

Christianity Today:

The proposed ban, which passed the 126-member state assembly on February 26, states that:

No person shall take any part in healing practices and magical healing propagation for treatment of any diseases, any disorder or any condition relating to the health of a person (relating to human body) directly or indirectly giving a false impression of treatment to cure diseases, pain or trouble to the human health.

Any first-time offender can face one to three years in prison, a fine of 50,000 rupees (about $600 USD), or both. A subsequent conviction may result in up to five years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of 100,000 rupees (about $1,200 USD).

The bill must be ratified by the president of India to become an act. Assembly leaders in Assam say that the healing ban does not target any particular religion, but they were clear about their aims to restrict evangelism and conversion.

“We want to curb evangelism in Assam, so in that direction, the banning of healing … will be a very, very important milestone,” said Himanta Biswa Sarma, the chief minister of Assam. The state is governed by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the national ruling party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Read the full article here.

Key Points

  • A bill in Assam, India, could make praying for the sick with intent to convert a criminal offense.
  • The legislation is part of wider efforts across Indian states to regulate religious conversions, impacting mainly Christian and Muslim communities.
  • Critics argue these measures violate religious freedom, while supporters claim they prevent fraudulent conversions.
Theme Pros Cons
Religious Freedom – Protects individuals from fraudulent conversions – Limits individuals’ rights to practice and propagate their faith
Legal Regulation – Aims to maintain social harmony by preventing religious tensions – Could be used to target religious minorities unfairly

Questions to Consider

  1. How does the balance between preventing fraudulent conversions and protecting religious freedom impact minority communities?
  2. What are the implications of such laws for interfaith relations in India?
  3. Can legal measures truly differentiate between genuine religious expression and attempts at conversion?



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