Barnabas Fund - 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
  • Young Christian man killed by Muslim co-worker in Pakistan for refusing to convert to Islam http://ow.ly/w1Uum Tue, Apr 2014 15:22

  • Christians driven out of Maaloula by Islamist rebels long to return after its recapture by the Syrian army http://ow.ly/vTrgN Thu, Apr 2014 16:37

  • Islamic parties make unexpected gains in Indonesian elections http://ow.ly/vR60m Wed, Apr 2014 16:46

  • Former counter-terrorism chief to lead inquiry into alleged Islamist takeover of Birmingham schools http://ow.ly/vOn9I Tue, Apr 2014 17:01

Daily prayer

Daily prayer_icon
  • Pray for Barnabas Fund partners in South Sudan who have been supporting Christians forced from their homes by violence. Conflict between supporters of President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar in December and January displaced around 860,000 people. Churches were burned down and a number of pastors killed, while many people lost their belongings and were left destitute. Give thanks that churches in and around the capital, Juba, were able to provide food and other essentials to many families with help from Barnabas. Pray that they may continue to be salt and light in their country at this unstable time (Matthew 5:13-16), and that it will soon be safe for displaced Christians to return home. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 15 hours ago

  • Pray for the residents of a mainly Christian village in Borno state, Northern Nigeria, in the aftermath of a horrific attack by Boko Haram militants on 15 February. Ask for God’s comfort for the relatives and friends of the 106 people in Izghe who were gunned down and slaughtered in their houses or in the open as they tried to flee. Pray for strength for the numerous residents who were wounded or whose properties were looted and torched. Pray too for the many Christians who fled into the neighbouring state after the attack, and ask that the Christian community in the North of Nigeria will be preserved in the face of Islamist violence. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Violent attacks by militants from the Islamist group Boko Haram continue unabated in Northern Nigeria. On one horrendous day of violence on 26 January, at least 138 people were killed. A church in Wada Chakawa village in Adamawa state was targeted; the attackers locked the congregation inside and then detonated bombs, shooting and cutting the throats of people who tried to escape. They then went on a four-hour rampage in the village. Later the same day, Kawuri village in neighbouring Borno state was burned to the ground. Boko Haram is fighting to establish an Islamic state, and Christians are among its main targets. Pray that the Nigerian authorities will succeed in containing its insurgency. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we give You thanks on this Easter Day for the living hope that You have given us and all Your people through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (1 Peter 1:3). We pray that the prospect of an enduring inheritance and future salvation will encourage our persecuted brothers and sisters to persevere in their faith, whatever may happen to them. We pray that we too may be sustained by this hope in the sufferings that we experience for the sake of Christ. We ask that the joy and resurrection power of the Lord will give strength and peace to persecuted believers today and every day. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Give thanks for the Christ-like responses of Christian leaders in CAR to the crisis that threatens them and their churches. They have distanced themselves from the anti-balaka militias, saying that these should not be labelled as Christian and that they hold no mandate from the churches. The leaders have also condemned the violence in the country, whatever its origin, and have called on Christians to pursue forgiveness, reconciliation and healing. Churches are hiding, defending and caring for thousands of Muslims endangered by the anti-balaka, and one of CAR’s most senior church leaders has invited the president of the country’s Islamic community to move into his church compound. Pray that this powerful witness to the grace and love of Christ will help to bring peace to the shattered country. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Apr 2014 00:00

© Barnabas Fund 1997 - 2014 All rights reserved.
Barnabas Fund & Barnabas Aid are registered trade marks