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Anti-conversion law in Nepal threatens religious freedom

By July 16, 2015
(Photo courtesy Open Doors USA)

(Photo courtesy Open Doors USA)

Nepal (MNN) — For years, there’s been talk of creating a new constitution in the Hindu-majority country Nepal. Now, it appears to be taking root, but Open Doors USA says it could mean trouble for Christians.

The Constituent Assembly of Nepal (CA) was elected in April 2008. Yet, the party failed to create a constitution. Even after the second CA was elected in 2013, the establishment of a constitution didn’t take place.

Action first started taking place after the severe earthquakes that rattled the country in April and May of this year. On June 8, the four main political parties agreed to create an outline for the constitution.

But now, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports the Hindu Rastriya Prajantantra Party – Nepal (RPP-N) has raised accusations of mass forced conversions. Because of this, they have proposed an anti-conversion law that could take away the right to religious freedom.

The key passage says, “No one shall behave, act or undertake activities that breach public order or break public peace/peace in the community; and no one shall attempt to change or convert someone from one religion to another, or disturb/jeopardize the religion of others, and such acts/activities shall be punishable by law.”

Open Doors reports if anyone is found guilty for breaking this law, they could be thrown in prison for a maximum of five years and be fined up to 50,000 Nepalese rupees.

In other words, this law could end up springing persecution on Christians. Sharing the Gospel with non-believers could become illegal.

“Christians face especially societal pressures, that’s more how it materializes,” Emily Fuentes of Open Doors says. “Often, from not maintaining traditional beliefs or the beliefs of the family or neighbors or friends.”

Christians make up less than two per cent of the population, but persecution fluctuates at different times.

“One year it might be a bit more extreme, then another it might be down for a bit of time, and then something might cause it to heighten where there’s more persecution against Christians,” Fuentes says.

“Nepal is like most countries where I would say that maybe the city areas and all that has a lot less persecution than the rural areas. Christians who are [in] rural area communities, it’s a lot easier to block them off and access things or keep them isolated. So, they’re going to experience a bit more societal persecution than maybe the rest of the country.”

Right now, Nepal isn’t in a season where there’s extreme persecution, but it’s something that should be monitored. “It can change at the drop of a hat. We’ve seen that not only with Nepal, but other countries.”

Christians don’t mind the challenge, but they could use some encouragement.

“We don’t pray that persecution goes away because they know, persecuted believers know that the church grows in spite of persecution. But, they ask us to pray that they remain strong.”

Open Doors invites you to share the stories of believers in Nepal so more people can hear and pray for Christian’s strength and safety. Also, pray that the anti-conversion law will be overturned.

3 Comments

  • Doug Hall says:

    I don’t understand how you can state that this would violate anyone’s religious freedom. It does not prohibit anyone from having any set of beliefs.

    It would simply prohibit proselytizing, inducing someone to change their faith. Seems like a very good idea to me.

  • Traci Guynup says:

    How would you feel if it was your child and you wanted to share your faith with them? You would not be allowed.

  • K. Harapriya says:

    Religious freedom cannot include the right to convert others because it is really an unequal freedom. Only some religions seek to convert and do so aggressively. That leaves the rest, who don’t seek to proselytize, as potential victims of this aggression. Furthermore, “sharing” your faith is really an innocuous misnomer. It hides the actual reality of missionary activity that takes place in places like Nepal. Missionary activity has never been a peaceful one–it is fraught with a violence that destroys families and societies and creates fissures in the social fabric. As Jesus says ““Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. (Matthew 10:34) Why should a Hindu majority country allow the Christians to bring a sword of Christianity to destroy their religion?

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