Religious Parties Told to Pass Anti-Missionary Law

Yad L'Achim demands religious parties fight rising tide of missionary activity, noting its bill on the subject has been in limbo for years.

Ari Yashar ,

Christians parades a cross in Jerusalem (illustration)
Christians parades a cross in Jerusalem (illustration)
Hadas Parush/Flash 90

Given the recent elections that paved the way for a coalition with the religious parties in a prime position, the Yad L'Achim anti-assimilation NPO this week urged the parties to push through a law banning missionary activity in Israel.

While an anti-missionary law is currently in force, Yad L'Achim notes the law is ineffective in that it only forbids missionary activity targeting minors or activity done with financial incentives offered to bamboozle potential converts. The group points out that even this law is not enforced.

Writing to religious MKs, the group stated "we cannot emphasize enough how urgent it is to demand legislation against missionary activity in Israel."

"The financial difficulties that many families find themselves facing has created opportunity for the missionaries," the letter said, noting how many missionaries offer assistance to beguile Jews. "At the same time, ignorance of Judaism leads many young people to attend missionary conferences, which lead to baptism."

Given the urgency of the threat to the continuity of the Jewish people in the Jewish state, Yad L'achim called on the religious parties to pass anti-missionary law, urging "don't let this opportunity slip away."

The group notes how in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's last government from 2009 to 2013, it presented a bill against missionary activity to the ministerial legislation committee.

Then-Justice Minister Prof. Ya'akov Neeman supported the bill, encouraging Yad L'Achim's founding director Rabbi Shalom Dov Lifschitz to submit the draft for passage - however, the bill was scuttled, with interference from the higher political echelon apparently being behind the move.

Rabbi Lifschitz fought the attempts to block the bill, writing to Netanyahu's office and quoting figures presented by the missionaries themselves, in which they reported that "in the past 19 years, more Jews have converted to Christianity than in the 1,900 years before that."

Now he is calling on the religious parties to revive the bill and see it passed to secure vulnerable Jews from the influence of the missionaries.