Criminalizing healing prayers proposed in India

worshippers in a church

A proposed ban on “magical healing” is the latest government initiative targeting Christian practice and evangelism in Assam.
State lawmakers in India are seeking to curtail evangelism with a ban on “magical healing” that could penalize Christians who offer prayer or any “non-scientific” practices to comfort people who are sick.
Last month, the northeastern state of Assam introduced the bill, which Christian leaders say unfairly targets their community’s custom of praying for the sick. Though church healing meetings in India have drawn people to Christ, local Christians insist that prayer is a legitimate, universal spiritual practice and not an unethical tool for conversion, as Hindu nationalists claimed.
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 …Continue reading…