Israel Unveils Bill To Make Talking About Jesus an Arrestable Offense

Israel Unveils Bill To Make Talking About Jesus an Arrestable Offense

( – On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion pronounced the establishment of a new state of Israel, and since then, the world has watched as Jews, Christians, and Muslims began efforts at trying to share the land that is central to all three religions. Throughout the next 70+ years, Christians in the United States — especially Evangelicals — have been staunch allies of the Jewish nation-state which is why news of a proposed bill in the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) about spreading the Gospel of Jesus has many of them concerned.

No Conversion Zone

When author and Editor-in-Chief of All Israel News Joel C. Rosenberg was reflecting on Palm Sunday (the celebration of Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem) and Easter (the day Christians around the world mark Christ’s resurrection from the dead) and published an article about a potential law, people sat up and took note. As he informed his readers, the proposal put forth by Yaakov Asher and Moshe Gafni, who are both ultra-Orthodox Jewish lawmakers in the Knesset and members of the United Torah Judaism (UTJ) political party is nothing new, but the makeup of the government and the mood of the people might make it different this time.

Rosenberg provided a hyperlink to “a professional English translation” of an amendment of the country’s penal law, titled the “Prohibition of Solicitation for Religious Conversion,” nominally aimed at any group proselytizing to Jews. However, only missionary groups of Christians are called out by name in the text, claiming their efforts “to solicit conversion of religion have increased.”

Under current law, these activities are already prohibited when they involve incentives of money or other material gains, but Gafni and Asher want to expand that to include attempts that point to “negative repercussions” for failure to convert. For example, Christian doctrine teaches the only way to eternal life in heaven is to accept Jesus as one’s personal Lord and Savior, which is something the two Knesset members would likely consider to be a source of “psychological harm.”

Israel’s Prime Minister (PM) Benjamin Netanyahu and the other members of his Likud party recognize Evangelical Christians have used their political influence and their wallets to advance the cause of the Jewish state in America. In order to ease any fears, he took to his Twitter feed and stated his position that his country would not “advance any law against the Christian community.”

However, acts of anti-Christian sentiment have been on the rise, and in a Twitter post, a Catholic priest in Jerusalem by the name of Nikodemus Schnabel responded to the vandalism of a statue of Jesus Christ saying such actions were “encouraged and supported by the current government.” Considering that the proposed punishment for trying to convert someone is up to one year in jail (two years if the target is under 18 years old) and that, above all else, Netanyahu is a politician, it’s not difficult to understand why someone standing in the midst of it all could be a bit nervous.

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