Hindu extremists focus on Christian influence in Nepal

By October 12, 2015
(Photo courtesy VOM USA)

(Photo courtesy VOM USA)

Nepal (MNN/VOM) — Christians are being blamed for “corrupting the country,” according to a smear campaign by a radical Hindu group in Nepal. Todd Nettleton, spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs USA, explains, “Christianity is seen as a foreign religion. ‘This is something that the foreigners brought. This is undermining our nation. It’s undermining our culture.’ So the radical Hindus in Nepal paint that picture and push that agenda.”

At the heart of the issue, the constituent assembly drafted a new constitution and rejected a proposal to revert to a Hindu state, declaring that Nepal was a secular state. That announcement was met with outrage and violence from Hindu nationalists. Nettleton recounts the most obvious signs of ire. “Two churches were bombed. Thankfully, the bombs exploded late at night. Nobody was there. Nobody got hurt. [In] the third church, a bomb was planted, but it didn’t explode.” Both churches suffered structural damage. Regarding the third bomb, however, “The police came and took it to the police station, and unfortunately, it exploded in the police station. A policeman was badly injured in that.”

(Photo courtesy VOM USA)

(Photo courtesy VOM USA)

Nettleton adds, ”I think the fact that one of these bombs exploded in a police station and not in a church raised the attention level and perhaps raised the intensity level of police to perhaps find the culprit(s).”

Nettleton confirms there have been arrests made in connection with the bombings in Nepal’s Jhapa district. However, “Did they get the right people? How seriously are they going to pursue this, taking them to trial and making sure that justice is done?”

What’s more, the attackers left anti-Christian pamphlets at each site. The flyers said that all Christian leaders must reconvert to Hinduism and that the Christianization of Nepal is happening with the support of foreign nations. “We have also seen photos circulating around Nepal of Bibles being burned at the sites of the church bombings,” says Nettleton. “There were radical Hindu leaflets left basically saying, ‘Nepal is a Hindu nation. If you’re not a Hindu, you’re not welcome here.’”

(Photo courtesy VOM USA)

(Photo courtesy VOM USA)

The flyers warned the government to take action or the group would begin their own campaign. “Churches, Christian organizations and institutions are their targets,” wrote a VOM contact. The message also warns Christian missionaries to leave the country. More pressure is coming from neighboring India. India immediately began a fuel blockade in an effort to force Nepal to reverse its secular decision. To that, Nettleton says, “I hope that the decision is made and that the decision is firm because there was ample discussion given to it in the constitutional process. It was proposed, it was discussed, and it was rejected.”

“All of that plays into the discussion of religious freedom,” Nettleton adds. “The Christians in Nepal are watching this all play out, knowing that they could be the victims of that, that that could be used as a weapon against them.” Even as a secular nation, it should be noted that the new constitution contains an anti-conversion clause that makes “any act to convert another person from one religion to another” illegal. However, he says, “Our calling is clear: regardless of what the government says, regardless of what the government does, as followers of Jesus Christ, we have the call to go into all the world and make disciples.”

After meeting with the pastors of the bombed churches, the VOM contact wrote, “Please pray for the peace and safety of the people.”

 

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