Christians lose an advocate in the anti-conversion fight

By September 15, 2011

Nepal (MNN) — Nepal's outgoing Prime Minister issued a parting
shot supporting the rights of minority religious groups such as
Christians.

Jhala Nath Khanal, the caretaker Prime Minister, resigned
his position when he missed the May 28 deadline for a new constitution. Carl Moeller with  Open Doors says the loss
of an advocate is not the best news. However, "It means that there's at
least some legitimate debate in the country on this question. If articulate
spokespeople outside of the Christian community alone can address this issue ,
I think it could be helpful to the cause of the church."

On August 31, the government missed its third deadline for a
draft Nepal constitution. While another three-month extension has been granted,
the postponement underscores the country's fragile political state. Instead of tackling the toughest issues, the
legislative body set about rewriting some of the country's penal codes, which
included language of an anti-conversion law.

Moeller says if it passes as written, it would define all
forms of religious communication, including sharing one's faith, as manipulative and proselytizing. "There could be severe fines and even up to five years in prison.
If missionaries or foreigners were convicted of such things, they could be
thrown out of the country. You can imagine the effect this would have on the
activities of a church or a mission group that wanted to witness the gospel of
Jesus Christ, say, in the context of education, medical care, or even
church planting."

Ironically, missionaries have found advocates that were unexpected,
like the former Prime Minister.  "We're
actually fighting with those that would promote a greater, more open,
secularism. Where Christians are a
minority religion, it actually serves to strengthen the church to
have a more secular approach to issues of religious liberty."

Nepal's journey from a constitutional monarchy to a republic
has not been a smooth one. Still, Christians
are cautious but hopeful that they will experience greater religious freedom. "Those
that are working, more or less from the center of this, need to be lifted up
in prayer. So, the church there needs to be lifted up because we need to
encourage them to stand strong in the midst of this chaos of their legal
status."

Open Doors asks you to 
pray for all those in authority in Nepal. Ask God to bring about genuine religious
freedom in this nation, because it seems it will take divine intervention. Pray for an advocate. "Unfortunately, the tide is really on the
side against Christians. That's why the former Prime Minister Khanal's words
are important in saying that there is a legitimate voice within the political
community of Nepal for the rights of minority religions like
Christianity."

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