Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has pledged to stop the passage of a proposed law which seeks to punish Christians engaged in preaching the gospel with imprisonment.
The bill was introduced in the Knesset, Israeli parliament, by a pair of ultra-Orthodox Jewish lawmakers, including its Finance Committee chairman, Moshe Gafni and Yaakov Asher. The lawmakers, who are members of the Torah Judaism Party, submitted it as the Israeli judicial reform continues.
The proposed legislation says that preaching to someone with a view to converting him to another faith should be punishable by one year in prison. And preaching to convert a minor will be punishable with a two-year sentence.
It said, “Recently, the attempts of missionary groups, mainly Christians, to solicit conversion of religion have increased.”
The proposed law says, “(Anyone) who persuades a person, directly, digitally, by mail or online, to convert his religion, his sentence is one-year imprisonment, and if the person was a minor, his sentence is two years imprisonment.
Many Christian groups, especially the evangelicals, have since condemned the bill. One of such groups is
Netanyahu, whose ruling coalition the sponsor belongs, in a tweet, said, “We will not advance any law against the Christian community.”
Also, Gafni said there are no plans to advance the bill, just as he explained that he introduced it as a procedural matter.
Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, was born in Israel. The Bible says he is the son of God and died for the sins of mankind.
As of 2022, Israeli population comprised 73% Jewish, 18.1% Muslim, 1.9% Christian and I.6% Druze. The remaining 4.8% included faith such as Samaritanism and Baha’i, as well as “religiously unclassified.”