A forced conversion is the religious conversion or acceptance of a philosophy against the will of the subject, often with the threatened consequence of earthly penalties or harm. These consequences range from job loss and social isolation to incarceration, torture or death.
End of Roman empire 
Forced conversion was a major means in the Christianization of the Roman Empire. In 392 A.D. the emperor Theodosius I instituted a law making Christianity the only legal religion of the empire, and forbidding Pagan practices by law as a means to stabilize the declining empire:
It is Our will that all the peoples who are ruled by the administration of Our Clemency shall practice that religion which the divine Peter the Apostle transmitted to the Romans....The rest, whom We adjudge demented and insane, shall sustain the infamy of heretical dogmas, their meeting places shall not receive the name of churches, and they shall be smitten first by divine vengeance and secondly by the retribution of Our own initiative" (Codex Theodosianus XVI 1.2.).
This law led to the destruction of most pagan temples in the empire.
Medieval era 
During the Saxon Wars, Charlemagne, King of the Franks, forcibly Christianized the Saxons from their native Germanic paganism by way of warfare and law upon conquest. Examples include the Massacre of Verden in 782, during which Charlemagne reportedly had 4,500 captive Saxons massacred upon rebelling against conversion, and the Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae, a law imposed on conquered Saxons in 785 which prescribes death to those that refuse to convert to Christianity.
Pope Innocent III pronounced in 1201 that even if torture and intimidation had been employed in receiving the sacrament, one nevertheless:
...does receive the impress of Christianity and may be forced to observe the Christian Faith as one who expressed a conditional willingness though, absolutely speaking, he was unwilling. ... [For] the grace of Baptism had been received, and they had been anointed with the sacred oil, and had participated in the body of the Lord, they might properly be forced to hold to the faith which they had accepted perforce, lest the name of the Lord be blasphemed, and lest they hold in contempt and consider vile the faith they had joined.
From The Crusades, by Bernard Hamilton “In 1309 the Teutonic Order moved its headquarters to Marienburg in Prussia. It had a papal license to wage perpetual war against the pagans and used this to launch annual crusades against Lithuania. These expeditions were very popular the nobility of northern Europe: campaigns were held twice a year, in the summer and in the winter when the order laid on special Christmas festivities for visiting crusaders.”“The excuse for men who enjoyed fighting and to lay waste large parts of Lithuania in the name of Christ was removed in 1386 when the King of Lithuania, Ladislas Jagiello, married Queen Jadwiga of Poland and received Catholic baptism. The two kingdoms were united under Christian rulers and the Teutonic Knights no longer had any justification for crusading against pagans there.”
Lithuania was not the first country that fell victim to a campaign of lethal military force, for the purpose of forced conversion to Christianity. Three entire European nationalities became victims of genocide because they refused to become Christians:“...the Vandals, Ostogoths, and Heruli. The last three were destroyed by the Pope of Rome because they refused to become Christian. The armies of Emperor Justinian, in cooperation with the Pope, thrust the Ostrogoths out of the city of Rome. They have become extinct.”
Spanish Inquisition 
After the end of the Islamic control of Spain, Muslims and Jews were murdered and expelled from Spain in 1492 and from Portugal in 1497. After the Reconquista, so called "New Christians" were those inhabitants (Sephardic Jews or Mudéjar Muslims) during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Era who were baptized under coercion and in the face of murder, becoming forced converts from Islam (Moriscos, Conversos and secret Moors) and forced converts from Judaism (Conversos, Crypto-Jews and Marranos). Then the Spanish Inquisition targeted primarily forced converts from Judaism who came under suspicion of either continuing to adhere to their old religion or of having fallen back into it. Jewish conversos still resided in Spain and often hiddenly (cryptically) practiced Judaism and were suspected by the "Old Christians" of being Crypto-Jews. The Spanish Inquisition generated much wealth and income for the church and individual inquisitors by confiscating the property of the persecutees or selling them into slavery. The end of the Al-Andalus and the expulsion of the Sephardic Jews from the Iberian Peninsula went hand in hand with the increase of Spanish-Portugal influence in the world, as exemplified in the Christian conquest of the Americas and their aboriginal Indian population. The Ottoman empire, the Netherlands, and the New World absorbed much of the Jewish refugees.
Goa Inquisition 
Religious persecution took place by the Portuguese in Goa, India from 16th to the 17th century. The natives of Goa, most of them Hindus were subjected to severe torture and oppression by the zealous Portuguese rulers and missionaries and forcibly converted to Christianity.
In 1567, the campaign of destroying temples in Bardez met with success. At the end of it 300 Hindu temples were destroyed. Enacting laws, prohibition was laid from December 4, 1567 on rituals of Hindu marriages, sacred thread wearing and cremation. All the persons above 15 years of age were compelled to listen to Christian preaching, failing which they were punished. In 1583 Hindu temples at Assolna and Cuncolim were destroyed through army action. The fathers of the Church forbade the Hindus under terrible penalties the use of their own sacred books, and prevented them from all exercise of their religion. They destroyed their temples, and so harassed and interfered with the people that they abandoned the city in large numbers, refusing to remain any longer in a place where they had no liberty, and were liable to imprisonment, torture and death if they worshipped after their own fashion the gods of their fathers." wrote Filippo Sassetti, who was in India from 1578 to 1588. An order was issued in June 1684 for suppressing the Konkani language and making it compulsory to speak the Portuguese language. The law provided for dealing toughly with anyone using the local language. Following that law all the non-Christian cultural symbols and the books written in local languages were sought to be destroyed.
Methods such as repressive laws, demolition of temples and mosques, destruction of holy books, fines and the forcible conversion of orphans were used.
Native American Boarding Schools 
The government paid religious societies to provide education to Native American children on reservations. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) founded additional boarding schools based on the assimilation model of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School.
Children were usually immersed in European-American culture through appearance changes with haircuts, were forbidden to speak their native languages, and traditional names were replaced by new European-American names. The experience of the schools was often harsh, especially for the younger children who were separated from their families. In numerous ways, they were encouraged or forced to abandon their Native American identities and cultures. Archived from the original on August 29, 2005. Retrieved February 8, 2006. The number of Native American children in the boarding schools reached a peak in the 1970s, with an estimated enrollment of 60,000 in 1973. Especially through investigations of the later twentieth century, there have been many documented cases of sexual, physical and mental abuse occurring at such schools. Since those years, tribal nations have increasingly insisted on community-based schools and have also founded numerous tribally controlled colleges. Community schools have also been supported by the federal government through the BIA and legislation. The largest boarding schools have closed. In some cases, reservations or tribes were too small or poor to support independent schools and still wanted an alternative for their children, especially for high school. By 2007, the number of Native American children in boarding schools had declined to 9,500.
Forced conversions are rare, but are reported to have happened under the Hasmonean Empire. The Idumaens were forced to convert to Judaism, (either by threats of exile, or threats of death, depending on the source.) In Eusebíus, Christianity, and Judaism Harold W. Attridge claims that “there is reason to think that Josephus’ account of their conversion is substantially accurate.” He also writes, “That these were not isolated instances but that forced conversion was a national policy is clear from the fact that Alexander Jannaeus (ca 80 BCE) demolished the city of Pella in Moab, “because the inhabitants would not agree to adopt the national custom of the Jews.” Josephus, Antiquities. 13.15.4, 397
And in 'The early Roman period, Volume 2', William David Davies has written that. “The evidence is best explained by postulating that an existing small Jewish population in Lower Galilee was massively expanded by the forced conversion in c.104 BCE of their Gentile neighbours in the north.”
Most scholars have argued that early Islamic scripture and law forbids forced conversion. One particular verse of the Qur'an (2:256) is frequently cited, reading "let there be no compulsion in religion". Muhammed and his followers never practice forced conversion of the Pagan Arabs during Muhammad's conquest of Arabia. None of the Quraish was forced to become Muslim, but Muhammad’s victory convinced some of his most principled opponents, such as Abu Sufyan, that the old religion had failed.
However, forced conversions have occurred during Islamic history but rarely has it been official government policy. Noted cases include the conversion of Samaritans to Islam at the hands of the rebel Ibn Firāsa, conversions in the 12th century under the Almohad dynasty of North Africa and Andalusia, as well as in Persia under the Safavid dynasty where Sunnis were converted to Shi'ism and Jews were converted to Islam. A form of forced conversion became institutionalized during the Ottoman Empire in the practice of devşirme, a human levy in which Christian boys were seized and collected from their families (usually in the Balkans), enslaved, converted to Islam, and then trained for high-ranking service to the sultan.
There is dispute amongst scholars as to whether the famous Jewish philosopher Maimonides converted to Islam in order to freely escape from Almohad territory, and then reconverted back to Judaism in either the Levant or in Egypt. Maimonides wrote a book on apostasy wherein he advocated accepting forced conversion rather than suffer martydom, and to then seek refuge afterward at a place where it was safe. The dispute also extended to the allegedly forced conversion of Sabbatai Zevi, an Ottoman Jew from Smyrna. In reality, at the beginning of 1666, the Ottoman Sultan in Constantinople ordered Sabbatai, who had many followers and had claimed to be the long-awaited Jewish messiah, to be imprisoned. When Sabbatai was later taken to Adrianople, the Sultan's physician, a former Jew, advised him to convert to Islam. The following day he converted before the Sultan, who happily rewarded Sabbatai by conferring the title (Mahmed) Effendi, and appointing him as his doorkeeper with a high salary. A number of Sabbatai's followers also went over to Islam and about 300 families converted and were known as dönmeh (converts). The sultan's officials ordered Sabbatai to take an additional wife to demonstrate his conversion.
Mughal ruler Aurangzeb cherished the ambition of converting India into a land of Islam. For this, he encouraged forced religious conversions and destroyed thousands of Hindu temples during his reign. During Tipu Sultan's invasion of Malabar in the late 18th century, he forcefully converted over 400,000 Hindus to Islam. During the Moplah Riots of 1921 in Kerala, Muslim Mappilas forcibly converted thousands of Hindus to Islam and killed all those who refused to apostatise. During the Noakhali genocide of Hindus in 1946, several thousand Hindus were forcibly converted to Islam by Muslim mobs. In Bangladesh, the International Crimes Tribunal tried and convicted several leaders of the Islamic Razakar militias, as well as Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami (Delwar Hossain Sayeedi), of war crimes committed against Hindus during the 1971 Bangladesh atrocities. The charges included forced conversion of Bengali Hindus to Islam. In the 1998 Prankote massacre, 26 Kashmiri Hindus were beheaded by Islamist militants after their denial of converting into Islam. The militants struck when the villagers refused demands from the gunmen to convert to Islam and prove their conversion by eating beef.
Twenty-first century allegations 
Forced conversion is not permitted in Buddhism and is rarely if ever attempted for religious reasons. However, in Burma in recent years the military dictatorship has strongly encouraged the conversion of ethnic minorities, often by force, as part of its campaign of assimilation.
The Baptist Church of Tripura is alleged to have supplied the NLFT with arms and financial support and to have encouraged the murder of Hindus, particularly infants, as a means to depopulate the region of all Hindus. In 2009, the Assam Times reported that about fifteen armed Hmar militants, members of Manmasi National Christian Army, tried to force Hindu residents of Bhuvan Pahar, Assam to convert to Christianity. A Few Christian evangelists in India have been accused forced conversion of Hindus, and some of them have been jailed for forcefully converting. Archbishop Moras, refuting these allegation of forced conversions and the charges of conversions against the Christian missionaries, said "We do not believe in forced conversions" "It is easy to charge people with wrong allegations but difficult to stop evil powers that are working against Christians".
Indian Christians have alleged that "radical Hindu groups" in Orissa, India have forced Christian converts from Hinduism to "revert" to Hinduism. These "religious riots" were largely between two tribal groups in Orissa, one of which was predominantly Hindu and another predominantly Christian, over the assassination of a Hindu leader named Swami Lakshmanananda by Christian Maoists operating as terrorist groups in India (see Naxalite). In the aftermath of the violence, American Christian evangelical groups have claimed that Hindu groups are "forcibly reverting" Christians converts from Hinduism back to Hinduism. However, some local Christian groups have dismissed these allegations.
In 2001 the Indonesian army evacuated hundreds of Christian refugees from the remote Kesui and Teor islands in Maluku (province) after the refugees stated that they had been forced to convert to Islam. According to reports, some of the men had been circumcised against their will, and a paramilitary group involved in the incident confirmed that circumcisions had taken place while denying any element of coercion.
In 2004 Coptic Christians in Egypt occupied the main Coptic cathedral in Cairo for several days, angry at the disappearance of a priest's wife in a village in the Nile delta, who, they alleged, had been forced to convert to Islam. The BBC reported that allegations of forced conversions of Copts to Islam surface every year in Egypt.
Other notables among these have been the cases of Iraq's Mandaeans, Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Christians, Christians of Pakistan and Assyrian Christians of Iraq who have faced coercion to convert to Islam.
In 2006 two journalists of the Fox News Network had been kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint. After conversion they were made to read statements on videotape proclaiming that they had converted, after which they were released by their captors.
There have been numerous reports of Islamic attempts to forcibly convert religious minorities in Iraq. In Baghdad, Christians have been told to convert to Islam, pay the jizya or die. In March 2007 the BBC reported that people in the Mandaean religious minority in Iraq alleged that they were being targeted by Islamist insurgents, who offered them the choice of conversion or death.
In Jammu & Kashmir, the Ladakh Buddhist Association has said: "There is a deliberate and organised design to convert Kargil's Buddhists to Islam. In the last four years, about 50 girls and married women with children were taken and converted from village Wakha alone. If this continues unchecked, we fear that Buddhists will be wiped out from Kargil in the next two decades or so. Anyone objecting to such allurement and conversions is harassed."
Around 25 Hindu girls are abducted every month and converted to Islam forcibly in Pakistan, as reported by Pakistani media. In May 2007, members of the Christian community of Charsadda in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, close to the border of Afghanistan, reported that they had received letters threatening bombings if they did not convert to Islam, and that the police were not taking their fears seriously. In June 2009, International Christian Concern (ICC) reported the rape and killing of a Christian man in Pakistan, for refusing to convert to Islam.
Rinkle Kumari, a 19 year Pakistani student, Dr. Lata Kumari, and Asha Kumari, a Hindu working in a beauty parlor, were allegedly forced to convert from Hindu to Islam. Their cases were appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Pakistan where they said that they wanted to live with their parents and not their 'so called' husbands. The court issued a verdict that they had decided to stay with their husbands.
In August 2009, ICC reported that four Christians working to help orphans in Somalia were beheaded by Islamist extremists when they refused to convert to Islam.
See also 
- State atheism
- Covenant of Umar I
- Religious conversion
- Religious intolerance
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