Another Indian state bans religious conversions as missionary murder trial continues
Under a new law passed today, any of the 51 million people living in India's western state of Gujarat must obtain government permission before converting to another religion or they will face up to one year in prison and a fine of 1,000 rupees ($20). Those "inducing" others to convert face up to three years in prison and a fine of 50,000 rupees ($1,000).

"We will oppose this draconian law as it's against the spirit of India's constitution, which allows freedom to propagate and practice any religion," Samson Christian, a spokesman for the All India Christian Council, told Reuters. Christians only form about 0.5 percent of the state's population.

The passage of the bill was not without debate, reports India Express. Members of the Congress party tried to shout down the bill's supporters, and one representative "broke the microphone and hurled its pieces, which fell on the Speaker's podium," the newspaper reports. "Unruly scenes in the House forced the Speaker to suspend all Congress legislators for remainder of the day."

The Global Council of Indian Christians also strongly opposed the bill, saying it has the "potential for chaos," and will make things worse for Christians, who are already facing increasing oppression, blackmail, and intimidation.

Others pointed out that the only intent of the law is to intimidate Christians. "As it is, any forced conversion could be prosecuted even without this bill because the use of force would be punishable under any provision of law. The use of force is not permissible. Therefore this bill is not necessary at all," Justice Rawani, former justice of the Rajasthan High Court, told NDTV.

Last October, the southern ...

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