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Israel Government Introduces Bill on Mission Schools in Knesset

Justice Minister Dov Joseph introduced last night in Parliament a bill which would curb activities of Christian mission schools in Israel by imposing prison terms for “direct persuasion of minors to convert to another religion.”

A private member’s bill to curb such activities was rejected by the Knesset last night. Offered by Rabbi Shlomo Lorencz of the ultra-Orthodox Agudat Israel party, the measure would have banned registration of minors for religious schools of denominations other than those of their parents accept with approval by the head of the child’s religious community; Zalman Arrane, Education Minister, spoke against the measure on the grounds that it would allow religious authorities to “usurp” the competence of parents.

The Government bill, which was not immediately debated but which is expected to be passed, would ban conversion of minors without the consent of both parents, forbid the conversion of adolescents against their will even with approval of both parents, and permit minors to be converted only to the religion of at least one parent.

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