Good (Encouraging) Stuff (Part 1)

Some good news from Japan today!

The lower house of the Japanese Diet passed a bill that will make it illegal for religious organizations to pressure people into making donations through “mind control” (defined as putting people into a state wherein they are unable to make rational decisions through fear or superstition, etc.). The bill will also make it illegal for religious organizations to demand that believers go into debt or sell property to make donations. This bill has teeth, and provides for a penalty of up to one year in prison for violations occurring after warnings to stop.

Although the bill does not apply solely to the Unification Church, it is clearly a response to the allegations that came to light in the wake of the assassination of Shinzo Abe.

The bill also provides mechanisms for victims of predatory religious organizations to reclaim forced donations, and victims here is defined as believers and the children of believers. A lot of the debate around the Unification Church and other predatory religious organizations has focused on the children of believers as the true victims, and this framing has helped to move this legislation forward. The bill is also expected to pass the upper house of the Diet.

It is really great to see action on this kind of sham religion here in Japan.