Barnabas Aid - International Headquarters River Street, Pewsey, Wilthire. Phone: +44 1672 565030 Latitude: 51 deg 23 min 18 sec N Longitude: 1 deg 45 min 48 sec W .
Draft law threatens freedom of religion ...

Email:

Draft law threatens freedom of religion and expression in Nepal

To

Email address:
Separate multiple addresses with a comma (,). Maximum of 10

From

Your name:
Your email address:
Security test:
Please enter the numbers that appear here in the box below.
refresh captcha
CAPTCHA Image
Security code:

Details provided here will never be used in any other context

Draft law threatens freedom of religion and expression in Nepal

Country/Region: Nepal, South and East Asia

Christian leaders fear the witness of the Church in Nepal will be seriously threatened by proposed new legislation that would further restrict evangelism and undermine freedom of religion and expression in the country.

Kathmandu-4X3.jpg
The Singha Durbar in Kathmandu is the official seat of government in Nepal

A new civil code is being drawn up that includes five clauses regarding religious behaviour. The most concerning of these for Christians is clause 160, which would make it illegal to convert someone or abet them to change their religion “by offering inducements or without inducement”, and preaching “a different religion or faith with any other intent”. Offenders could face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to 50,000 Nepalese rupees.

A Nepalese Christian leader said:

This clause is of serious concern. This law seems to go further than Nepal’s Interim Constitution of 2007, by making it illegal to act or behave in any way which might lead someone to change their religion, even without offering inducements. This could include a number of actions that most Christians would see as being integral to the exercise of their faith, as it might result in another person wishing to become a Christian.

Nepalese Christians are also concerned about clauses 158 and 159, which would respectively ban “undermining any religious feeling” and “putting an obstacle in the way of religious rituals which have been in existence since time immemorial”. They fear the former could be used to stifle the free expression of religion as well as the scrutiny or criticism of discriminatory practices, such as the caste system or inequitable treatment of women, that are embedded in religious belief. There is concern that the latter clause could be used to protect the traditional religions of Nepal, Hinduism and Buddhism, with “newer” religions to the country, including Christianity, being perceived as a threat.

Return to the old order?

For nearly two centuries before 1950 no Christians were officially allowed to live in Nepal. Although the ban was then lifted, in 1960 the country was declared a Hindu kingdom, and for the next 30 years many Christians were imprisoned for converting from Hinduism or influencing others to do so. Foreign missionaries accused of “preaching” were deported.

A secular state was established in 2006, and an interim constitution guaranteed freedom of religion and expression to all groups; every citizen has the right to “profess, practise and preserve” their religion, and people are allowed to convert from one faith to another, although persuading others to change their faith is forbidden. Christians suspected of encouraging conversion can be reported to the authorities and, if found guilty, may be fined or imprisoned.

But the church has enjoyed a considerable measure of freedom and growth; official figures suggest there are now more than half a million Christians, and some church leaders put the figure much higher, though it remains a very small proportion (2-3%) of the population.

Increasing Hindu extremism is, however, threatening the place of Christianity in the country; the Nepal Defence Army (NDA) and other groups want to turn it back into a Hindu nation. Some Nepalese Christians fear Hindu extremists are gearing up for wide-ranging persecution, which the proposed legislation may serve to advance. The additional restrictions certainly appear to be a retrograde step more in keeping with the old order than the provisions made for religious freedom by the interim constitution.

Help us: Share this article

Email:

Draft law threatens freedom of religion and expression in Nepal

To

Email address:
Separate multiple addresses with a comma (,). Maximum of 10

From

Your name:
Your email address:
Security test:
Please enter the numbers that appear here in the box below.
refresh captcha
CAPTCHA Image
Security code:

Details provided here will never be used in any other context

christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

Other articles

Follow Barnabas

or

receive news & appeal emails as they are published

From Twitter

From Twitter_icon

    Daily prayer

    Daily prayer_icon
    • As the Syrian civil war rages on, the militant Islamist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) now controls extensive territory in eastern Syria. The group is acutely hostile to Christians, who are suffering grievous oppression under its rule. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has named Syria as one of the world’s worst violators for the first time, saying that the crisis “has devolved largely into a sectarian conflict” and “represents one of the worst situations in the world for religious freedom”, with abuses being committed by all sides. Before the war, it was easier to be a Christian in Syria than almost anywhere else in the Arab world. Pray that the US and other Western governments will continue to work for a resolution of the conflict and for religious freedom for all Syria’s citizens. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 16 hours ago

    • Give thanks that members of a Pakistani Christian family who have been trapped in bonded labour for years have been rescued by Barnabas partners. The owner of the brick kiln where they worked had kept them enslaved by withholding their wages and forcing them to take out a loan from him. When they tried to leave, he made them return, and he beat, tortured and threatened to kill them. The father of the family died in 2013 as a result of illness and weakness. But earlier this year, his widow sought help from our partners, and they obtained a court order for the recovery of the family. Pray for the three members who have already been rescued as they recuperate at a safe house. Pray too for the efforts to secure the freedom of six others still held by the owner. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Aug 2014 00:00

    • About 1,500 Christians staged a protest in Lahore, Pakistan in June 2014 over the grabbing of church-owned property by the government of Punjab. Over ten large properties, including a church, schools, hospitals and graveyards, have been taken. Christian leaders met with the Lahore District Coordination Officer on 15 June to demand the return of the latest school to be seized, but when they failed to get a positive response, Christian protestors took to the streets. Pray that the provincial government will respect the property rights of the churches. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Aug 2014 00:00

    • Praise God that Pakistan’s Supreme Court has instructed the government to take specific steps to protect religious minorities from violence and intolerance. The ruling was issued partly in response to the deadly attack on All Saints Church in Peshawar in September 2013, which claimed over 100 lives. The court ordered the formation of a National Council for Minority Rights, a special police force to protect places of worship, and a taskforce to develop strategies to counter intolerance, along with further corrective measures. Campaigners for the rights of Christians in Pakistan welcomed the moves but expressed reservations about whether they would be implemented. Pray that the measures will achieve a tangible improvement in the condition of the country’s Christians. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Aug 2014 00:00

    • Loving Father, we cry out to You for the loved ones of ten Egyptian Christians who were murdered in Libya in February and March this year. We ask that You will bring your healing and peace to their families and friends and comfort their congregations in their loss. We pray for protection for Egyptian and other expatriate Christians in Libya and ask that their neighbours will not yield to requests by the militants to hand them over and get a reward in return. We pray that further Islamist attacks against Christians will be prevented and that the Libyan authorities will establish a greater measure of control over the country. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Aug 2014 00:00

    © Barnabas Aid 1997 - 2014 All rights reserved.
    Barnabas Aid is a registered trade mark