Shas proposes bill to forbid evangelism

Wednesday, March 14, 2007 |  by Staff Writer
Shas declared war on missionaries on Tuesday when the Sephardic ultra-Orthodox party proposed a bill stating that anyone attempting to convert Jews should be imprisoned.

“Every time he (Rabbi Ovadia Yosef) hears of a case where someone falls into missionary hands, he feels great sadness and asks us to try and save at least one soul in Israel,” Yakov Margi, Shas Knesset member said.

Shas views missionaries as not only people who come from abroad and evangelize, but any person or religions sharing their faith in an attempt to especially convert Jews.

Margi proposed that those preaching conversion should be imprisoned for one year.

“Whether it's Christians coming from abroad or Jewish converts working in Israel, they all have the same agenda – to destroy every trace and memory of the people of Israel, and they plan to do this by converting Jews,” the proposal read. “These bodies are operating mainly among the Jewish population which is under physical, social and spiritual distress.”

Israel’s current law on conversion is five years in prison for those who offer money in exchange for conversion. The recipient also faces charges. For those who conduct a “conversion ceremony” on minors face up to six months in jail.

The new law would also pertain to Jews attempting to convert non-Jews to Judaism.

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