In a rare instance of protecting Christian converts instead of persecuting them, an Indian court recently ruled to uphold true freedom of religion guaranteed by the country’s constitution.
Last year, two families converted to Christianity from Buddhism, resulting in a social boycott and subsequent financial hardships. In response to what tribal leaders saw as coerced conversion at the hands of missionaries, mandates were issued prohibiting others from employing, assisting, or otherwise interacting with the converts until they rejected their new religion and returned to Buddhism. Anyone who hired them was threatened with fines.
The families sought help from the court after suffering in this excommunication for more than six months, asking them to uphold the country’s laws and forcibly remove unconstitutional mandates preventing them from living their lives and providing for their families. After three months of waiting, the court delivered an unexpected ruling, reprimanding the tribe for the treatment of the two families and threatening fines and even arrest for anyone continuing to harass them for their religion.
Christian communities have hailed this court ruling as a victory for Christians in India, coming during a time when persecution from Hindu nationalists is at an all-time high. Churches are hopeful that courts will use this ruling as an example moving forward, and that the freedom of religion enshrined in the country’s constitution continues to be upheld equally towards all religious groups.