Via Jonathan Turley I learned something that I had not known before, and that is that in India the law requires you to get government approval to change your religion. That bizarre law had its genesis in preventing forcible conversions by giving a third party the opportunity to judge if the person genuinely agreed to the conversion.
But like many such laws, it has unintended consequences and one is that it enables people who object to conversions to block them by asserting that they were done under duress.
Tularam Jatav, his son Keshav and relatives Manikram and Makhubhai Jatav were arrested in Madhya Pradesh despite telling a court that they had not been forced into adopting another religion. Seven others have been held for questioning.
The Jatav family went to a district magistrate with affidavits affirming that they were converting willingly. Notably, local Hindu activists arrived and began protesting the conversion. After hours of such protests, charges were filed against the family. The appearance and timing of the protest/charges magnifies the concerns over the law and its use against religious minorities. Villagers were the ones to alleged forced conversions to Islam despite the family’s insistence that it was voluntary.
The whole idea of a forced religious conversion is not only wrong but silly. The idea that the solution to it is to require government approval merely compounds the problem. The only real solution is strict separation of church and state and strong protection of people for their individual rights.