Nepal: Religious freedom on the line

Source:            www.MNNonline.org

Date:               August 14, 2014

 

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(Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

(Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Nepal (MNN) — Religious freedom is at-stake in Nepal as political leaders feel pressure to add anti-conversion laws to the constitution. It shouldn’t be a surprise that India is pushing Nepal to make the change, say Patrick Klein with Vision Beyond Borders.

Listen to the full interview here.

“India’s very, very influential in Nepal’s politics,” Klein explains. “This radical Hindu group that’s mostly based down in India, they’re trying to push these anti-conversion laws because the Church [is] growing very fast in Nepal.

“People are seeing that Hinduism does not work and is not the Truth.”

On his Web site, Christian researcher Russ Mitchell identifies Nepal and China as the places where Christianity is growing the fastest. He uses information gathered from a 2013 report published by The Center for the Study of Global Christianity.

“The primary growth factor in Asia is conversion growth,” Mitchell writes. “China, Nepal, Cambodia, and Mongolia have high conversion rates among their indigenous people.”

This growth is what threatens the radical Hindu groups, Klein explains.

“There’s a lot of control through religion,” he says. “I think we’re going to see more and more persecution break out in Asia because these people are threatened.”

In a recent briefing, Christian Solidarity Worldwide draws attention to proposed anti-conversion legislation. It cites specific examples of pressure on Nepali leaders to restrict religious freedom and calls on the Constituent Assembly to protect citizens’ rights to choose which belief they will adhere to.

Religious Freedom in South Asia
Most of Nepal’s neighbors have something in their books restricting religious freedom. Five states in India have strict anti-conversion laws in place, while another three have laws under consideration. Only one state, Tamil Nadu, has successfully repealed such statutes.

south asia

Eight of nine countries in South Asia are on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List (WWL).
(Map courtesy SouthAsianConcern.com)

Anti-Christian sentiment is even more widespread on the social front in South Asia. From Pakistan to Burma, eight of nine countries in South Asia are on the Open Doors World Watch List (WWL). The World Watch List is a ranking of 50 countries where persecution of Christians for religious reasons is worst.

Nepal’s new constitution is expected to reach completion next year. If an anti-conversion law is added and enforced, it’ll have damaging effects on ministry.

Currently VBB works with local believers in Nepal to rescue women and girls from the sex trade. They also care for orphaned kids and match them with sponsors who can support them financially.

“When [girls] come into the safe house and hear the Gospel, they get saved. [Under the new constitution], that would be illegal,” explains Klein. “It would really hurt us.

“If one of those kids [in the orphanage] came to Christ, then the orphanage could be shut down and the directors put in prison.”

What you can do to help
Please pray about this situation, and pray for believers in Nepal. “Pray that the Church will be strong and that the Church will not compromise,” asks Klein.

“We also need to pray for the lawmakers in these countries, that the Holy Spirit would convict them of sin, of righteousness, and judgment to come.”

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