Two members of Israeli Knesset (parliament) have caused a stir and controversy, after they introduced a controversial bill.
The lawmakers introduced a bill, seeking to ban any and all efforts to tell people about Jesus.
According to a report by All Israel News, if the new bill that was introduced last week is approved, people who talk about Jesus in Israel would be sent to at least one-year imprisonment.
“The punishment for doing so would be one-year imprisonment.
“If the conversation is with minor – someone under the age of 18 – the punishment would be two years imprisonment,” the report reads.
The proposed legislation would outlaw all efforts by people of one faith who, in any way, want to discuss or try to persuade people of other faiths to consider changing their current religious beliefs.
This bill would apply to people having spiritual conversations with Israelis of any religion.
However, in their official explanation of the bill, the two Israeli legislators, Moshe Gafni and Yaakov Asher, who are ultra-Orthodox Jewish members of Knesset specifically emphasised the warning to stop Christians, in particular.
The bill’s primary objective, therefore, appears to be making it illegal for followers of Jesus (“Yeshua” in Hebrew) to explain why they believe that Jesus is both Messiah and God with the hope that Israelis might consider following Him.
The bill does not only make a simple personal conversation about Jesus with another individual a crime.
It would also make it illegal for “someone who solicits a person – directly, digitally, by mail or online – in order to convert his religion.”
Thus, producing and publishing online videos explaining the Gospel to Jewish or Muslim people in Israel – and to those of any other religious faiths – would suddenly become illegal.
Publishing books, other printed literature, online articles, podcasts, or other forms of media that explain the life and ministry of Jesus and His message found in the New Testament would also become illegal. So would discussing the Gospel message via email, text messages, written letters and/or on social media, including answering questions initiated by people who don’t follow Jesus.
According to the report, the bill could also spark a serious clash with the Evangelical Christians in the United States and around the world who are among the biggest supporters of the State of Israel.
The bill could also draw sharp criticism from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, in the executive branch, among U.S. governors and others who love Israel and have always stood with the Jewish state, but would fiercely oppose efforts to silence followers of Jesus in the Holy Land.
Former U.S. Ambassador of International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback – who served during the Trump-Pence administration – is the first American leader to publicly warn that the new bill poses a massive threat to free speech, human rights and religious freedom.