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DONAMON, Ireland (LifeSiteNews) – A Catholic couple has said that they would rather go to jail than pay a fine for breaking COVID-19 restrictions by going to Mass.  

Catholic couple Jim Ryan, 64, and his wife Ann, 59, broke COVID-19 regulations on Palm Sunday, March 28, 2021, by driving over 5 km from their home.  

In April, the couple was charged for this alleged offense by Judge Raymond Finnegan at Cavan District Court. According to Independant.ie, the judge ruled that they must each pay a €300 fine.  

“I will go to jail before I pay it. I would rather go to jail, without a shadow of a doubt,” Jim, a retired firefighter, reported.I have no intention of paying them a fine for me going to Mass – for doing what I have done my whole life.” 

Up until this point, the couple has led a law-abiding and quiet life in their stone cottage bordering a railway line in Donamon 

“We’re 64 and 59 years old,” said Ann, a retired nurse, and “have never had any convictions, are quiet-living people and are not affiliated to any organizations.” 

“We’re just ordinary Joe Soaps – but with one difference, we honor God and we believe in God,” Anne continued.  

The couple struggled to be able to attend in-person Mass because of the COVID-19 restrictions. “On one occasion, we went to a church near here and we actually got thrown out,” said Jim. 

“The priest was filming a Mass to put on Facebook and when we saw it was on we went in,” he recalled. “But the priest came down to me and said we had to get out of the church.” 

“For the sake of keeping the peace, I left the church, but that was the state we were in,” Jim continued.  

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PETITION: Stop India's anti-conversion laws against Christians
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SIGN this petition calling on Indian legislators to protect Christians from unjust anti-conversion laws. 

Christians are being attacked relentlessly by violent Hindus in India, but some Indian states are compounding this persecution by jailing those accused of converting Hindus to Christ. 

Using "anti-conversion laws", eight Indian states have outlawed any attempt by minority faiths such as Christianity to convert members of the majority Hindu population.   

Please tell Indian legislators that their anti-conversion laws must be scrapped.

Christians know that, like St. Paul who himself was jailed (2 Tim 2:8-10), we cannot remain silent in announcing Christ to unbelievers (Acts 5:17-26), but our Indian brothers and sisters in faith are being imprisoned on trumped up charges when they have not violated any of these unjust laws.

Legislators in eight Indian states have created vaguely-worded "anti-conversion laws", leaving the door wide open to minorities being accused of "allurement" or "coercion" when sharing their faith with Hindus. 

The wording often states that "no person should convert or attempt to convert, either directly or indirectly, any person from one religion to another by use of force or by allurement or by any fraudulent means".

The states of Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand have already introduced these laws, with several more expected to follow.

Legislators have ignored the fact Christians are entirely opposed to forced conversions or deception, instead bowing to the demands of Hindu extremists worried that Christ is winning the hearts of Indians long maltreated in the inhumane caste system.

The false allegations of coercion made against Christians have resulted in the widespread persecution of believers across the country.

SIGN and SHARE this petition calling on Indian legislators to protect Christians from unjust anti-conversion laws. 

As K.V. Turley reported on LifeSiteNews, one reason Christians and other minorities are persecuted is because of the growing popularity of the nationalist Hindutva ideology.

This ideology demands a Hindu-only India, resulting in sustained violence against those who would lead Hindus to Christ. 

Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, then-General Secretary of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India, said as early as 2018 that even members of the ruling Barathiya Janata Party (BJP) are "using false accusations to incite hate. And nobody in their party or in the government is revoking their problematic statements.”

The latest anti-conversion bill is set to be passed in Karnataka state, where Christians will face jail terms of up to 10 years if found guilty of converting others by alleged "force", "fraudulent methods", or as a result of marriage.

Karnataka has seen a significant increase in Hindu attacks on Christian priests, pastors and laity, with the BBC reporting at least one violent incident in 21 out of 31 districts. 

Please SIGN to help almost 30 million Christians, who make up less than 2.5% of the Indian population, live in peace. 

Right-wing Hindu radicals are known to barge into houses or churches where prayer sessions are conducted and demand the identity of those in attendance. 

If Hindus are in the audience, conversion charges are pressed and the pastors are arrested. The onus of proof is on the pastors, catechists or priests.

Another issue is that Catholic priests, brothers and nuns teach, educate and empower the dalits (untouchables), the tribals and the poor. These then stand up for their rights, which is not pleasing to many politicians.

This petition will be sent to the Indian ambassadors to the USA and Canada, the Ambassador at Large of the United States for International Religious Freedom, the High Representative of the EU's Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the president of India's ruling BJP party.

Indian legislators must be convinced to stop treating minorities with such contempt - speak up on their behalf now by signing the petition.

For More Information: 

Blind couple in India was stripped and beaten for being Christian. Their six-year-old saw it all

Indian archbishop condemns government’s demolition of Jesus statue

Open Doors UK - Christian persecution in India

ACN: Catholic priest condemns Indian government's inaction

**Photo Credit: Video screenshot of a statue of Christ about to be destroyed by authorities in Karnataka on February 14, 2022**

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‘The guards were waiting for us’

In March 2021, Fr. P.J. Hughes announced that he would celebrate Mass on the Feast of Palm Sunday at Our Lady of Lourdes in Mullahoran, County Cavan. This Mass would be open to everyone.  

This decision was in contradiction to the Level 5 restriction which closed places of worship. “I will exercise my constitutional right even though people are complaining,” Fr. Hughes said while acknowledging that this was contrary to his bishop’s directives.  

“We are committing a grave mistake by rejecting our Lord and God Jesus Christ by staying away because government officials say we must,” Fr. Hughes said in the lead-up to Palm Sunday. 

News of this decision reached local media and several checkpoints were set up on the way to the church. “We read online that Fr. Hughes was saying mass at Mullahoran church and that he was going to turn no-one away,” recalled Jim. 

“This was Psalm Sunday … the day Jesus rode into Nazareth on a donkey knowing the terrible torture and death he was facing and He kept going for our sins,” he continued.  

“Going to mass that Sunday was extremely important to us,” Jim explained. “Ann had just gone through a life-saving medical procedure and we wanted to say thank you to God.” 

Accordingly, Jim and Ann determined to travel 70 km to attend this Mass on this major Catholic feast. On the road, they were stopped at a checkpoint by an officer, Barry Mulligan, who instructed them not to continue to the church.  

However, the couple continued their journey and participated in “an absolutely beautiful mass.” When it finished, Jim recalled, “the guards were waiting for us.” 

The guards “took all the registration numbers and, I’d say afterwards, they contacted the different checkpoints and gave them the list of the cars.” 

This April, the couple were called to court to face their charges. Immediately after being charged, the couple filed an appeal.  

Jim explained that the restrictions violated their basic rights, saying, “Article 44 of the constitution says that we have the right to practice our religion in public.” 

“It also says in Article 15 that the Dáil cannot impose a law that goes against the constitution – and this law did,” he continued.  

Additionally, Anne said she chose to obey God’s law above man’s. “I decided on that morning that I was going to honor one of the ten commandments,” she said, “which was to honor the Sabbath Day.” 

“On the balance of things, God’s law was more important to me than Man’s,” Ann said, adding, “Man’s law is fallible. God’s is not.” 

Outside the court house, Jim told the Anglo-Celt, “Fr. P.J. Hughes, is a very honorable man, and a true priest, who has honored his vocation.” 

“The judge said in there that that wasn’t our local church,” he explained. “It was our local church because it was the nearest church to us that was open. All the rest of them were closed and in defiance of the constitution.” 

Ireland has had some of the most strict lockdowns and COVID related restrictions, as the country has drifted further and further from Catholicism.

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