Monday, March 05, 2012

Israeli Mail Carriers Object To Delivering New Testaments

In Israel, mail carriers in the city of Ramat Gan are refusing to deliver thousands of copies of the New Testament translated into Hebrew that have been mailed to city residents. According to YNet News today, religious mail carriers are asserting that delivering the books, which they see as missionary material, violates their conscience. They say that delivering the books to Jewish residents violates halacha (Jewish religious law).  They also say that delivering missionary material is illegal under Israeli civil law, though that is unclear. The U.S. State Department Religious Freedom Report says:
Proselytizing is legal in the country, and missionaries of all religious groups are allowed to proselytize all citizens. A 1977 law prohibits any person from offering material benefits as an inducement to conversion. It is also illegal to convert persons under 18 years of age unless one parent is an adherent of the religious group seeking to convert the minor. Despite the legality of proselytism, the government has taken a number of steps that discouraged proselytizing and encouraged the popular perception that it is illegal.
The Israel Postal Company says: "The Israel Postal Company is a governmental company operating in accordance to the Postal Law, which obligates us to distribute any mail it receives. The Israel Postal Company has no right or ability to chose what it can or cannot distribute. Therefore, the mail will be distributed according to the law."