#924 for broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 13 Jul 2014.
On May 27, the Myanmar government published its proposed Religious Conversion Law in state-owned newspapers, prompting a heated debate over religious freedom.
The proposed law appears to violate fundamental universal and constitutional rights by granting authorities sweeping powers over an individual’s choice of faith, specifically the prospect of arbitrary arrest and detention for those wishing to convert from Theravada Buddhism to another faith.
If enacted, the law would criminalise evangelistic witness and prevent people from adopting a new religion. It would also potentially politicise and empower radical Buddhist monks, and deny Burmese people the freedom of religion they possess as a fundamental human right.
The repression of religious liberty is being championed by Buddhist nationalist monks.
The proposed Religious Conversion Law is one of four laws introduced by Myanmar’s Ministry of Religious Affairs, which defines its mandate as the “purification, perpetuation, promotion and propagation of the Theravada Busddist Sasana [or religious doctrine].”
I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.