Published: 00:01 GMT Standard Time - Tuesday 20 March 2012
Lent Prayer - Nepal
Project(s): 89-992, 89-946
Country/Region: South and East Asia, Nepal
In November 2011 an extremist Hindu group, the Nepal Defence Army, detonated a bomb beside the offices of a Christian mission agency in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu. Pamphlets were found demanding that Nepal become a Hindu state, that all churches be closed within 50 days, and that all mission organisations should leave the country. Although anti-Christian violence is rare in Nepal, the same group bombed a church in Lalitpur two years earlier and has also killed a pastor and attacked other Christians.
|Church leaders in Nepal who received training supported by Barnabas Aid|
Nepal has a large Hindu majority (some 75%), and until 2006 it was a Hindu kingdom with Hinduism as its national religion. A long period of Maoist insurgency and political instability led to the establishing of a secular state in 2006. An interim constitution was issued the following year, which guaranteed freedom of religion and expression to all citizens. But Hindu extremists want to turn the country back into a Hindu nation, and they see the churches as a threat, especially in light of their rapid growth. (Before 1950 no Christians were officially allowed to live in Nepal; official figures suggest that there are now more than half a million.)
Converts to Christianity face social ostracism from their communities and occasional hostility and discrimination. Persuading others to change their religion is illegal, and Christians suspected of encouraging conversion can be reported to the authorities and may be fined or imprisoned.
A new civil code proposed by the Maoist-dominated government now threatens further to restrict evangelism and undermine religious liberty. Some church leaders believe that the legislation could make it illegal for Christians to act or behave in any way that might lead others to convert. Other clauses would ban “undermining any religious feeling” or obstructing “religious rituals that have been in existence since time immemorial”. It is feared these may be used to stifle free expression and protect Nepal’s traditional religions, Hinduism and Buddhism, against any challenge from Christianity.
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This article is taken from
“Praying for the Persecuted Church in Lent 2012” -.