A piece of legislation was recently introduced into Israel’s Knesset or parliament that would make it illegal for anyone to share their faith in Israel.
If passed, anyone convicted of sharing the gospel by word or any other medium such as the printed page, radio, internet or TV could be sentenced to one year in prison. This would be increased to two years, if it involved someone under the age 18.
It would essentially criminalize sharing the Gospel in Israel.
The bill was introduced by two ultra-orthodox members of the Knesset, Moshe Gafni and Yaakov Asher. Gafni and Asher are both members Ashkenazi Haredi party United Torah Judaism that are helping keep Prime Minister Netanyahu minority government in power.
Gafni and Asher stated that they were motivated to introduce the legislation, because there has been a noticeable increase in Christians sharing their faith:
“Recently, the attempts of missionary groups, mainly Christians, to solicit conversion of religion have increased. At times these attempts do not involve monetary promises or material gains and are therefore not illegal according to the current law, but the many negative repercussions, including psychological damages, warrant the intervention of the legislature.”
This is not the first time, Gafni has introduced such legislation. He brought forth a similar bill in 1999, in response to a Christian book, which had been translated into Hebrew, and mailed to millions of homes across Israel. The wording of the 1999 legislation even made it illegal to own a copy of the New Testament.
Under Israel’s current legislation, it is illegal for the gospel to be shared with anyone under the age of 18, unless one of the parents is a member of the converting group. It is also illegal to provide financial or other incentives to anyone to entice them to convert.
Most believe that the legislation will not pass, and Prime Minister Netanyahu sent out a tweet stating that Christians should not be concerned:
But it is interesting considering that the heart of the Gospel is that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. The church is simply a continuation of Israel, made up of Jews and Gentiles who accepted Jesus as the Messiah.
Unfortunately, it was the Roman Catholic Church that ultimately drove a wedge between Christianity and Judaism, breaking them apart.
Even today, there are several Jewish sects which claim their leaders are the Jewish messiah, such as Rabbi Schneerson (deceased) who is displayed on the billboard below. However, those Jews are not looked upon as a separate religion.
READ: Politicians bid to criminalise speaking about Jesus in Israel AND Bill against missionizing in Israel sparks controversy. Jewish and Christian activists weigh in