Burma has been the United States’ poster child for reform, said the Washington Post, describing the country (also called Myanmar) as a model for how a nation can move from military rule to democracy. However, this reputation is in jeopardy with its recent Religious Conversion Law.
According to the proposed legislation, if a person converts to a new religion he must first obtain a permit. Boards will be established at the town level to determine the validity of the requests for permits. They will have the power to accept or deny the requests. Their “sweeping power” allows them to determine if an applicant is exercising his/her own “free will.” Those applying for conversion, if found “with the intent of insulting or destroying a religion,” can face up to two years in prison.
Nearly 89 percent of Burma’s population is Buddhist. Muslims are forced into camps in west Burma, and many Christian Believers take refuge in Burma’s north. Each minority group represents four percent of Burma’s population. Burmese must indicate their religion on their official Identity Card, which determines their rights.
Many domestic and international organizations condemn the bill. They object to the multiple steps of government approval needed to convert as being “practically impossible.” An alliance of 81 organizations called on the government in June to “immediately scrap” the law on grounds that it impinges on rights and “appears to legitimize the views of those promoting hate-speech and inciting violence against Muslims and other minorities,” according to Democratic Voice of Burma.
About 800 people attended a prayer meeting in June. Pastor Bawi Cung Lian said, “This draft can hinder the progress of Christianity. So we’re holding a prayer meeting to oppose the adoption of this law and change the mindset of concerned authorities and the President.”
PRAY for Burmese Christian Believers to remain peaceful in their protests and that no violence will erupt (The Bible, Joshua 9:15).
PRAY that the anti-Conversion law will not pass and that people will boldly accept Jesus Christ (The Bible, Acts 14:3).
PRAY that President U Thein Sein will embrace the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Savior (The Bible, Romans 10:20).