Persecution Friday: Nepal

April 8, 2011 at 9:11 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com

Nepal: Evangelism Ban?

As Nepal continues its transition from a monarchal Hindu Kingdom to a democratic secular state, Christians are becoming concerned that the country’s new constitution may limit or even ban evangelism.

The draft proposal includes a seemingly liberal religious freedom clause that states, “Every person shall have the freedom to profess, practice or preserve his or her own religion in accordance with his or her faith, or to refrain from any religion.” However, an explanatory note adds that while every person has the freedom to “convert on his or her will … no person shall be entitled to … convert a person from one religion to another.” Christians fear that the explanatory note could be used as a means of restricting evangelism.

The potential ban on evangelism seems to have raised no concerns among parliament members; the religious freedom provision is listed under “Areas of Agreement” on the Centre for Constitutional Dialogue website. Several parliament members told Compass Direct News that they were unaware of the religious freedom provision’s implications. One member of the Nepali Congress political party said, “Perhaps the words, ‘force, inducement and coercion’ should be inserted to prevent only unlawful conversions.”

Under terms of the Interim Constitution that has been in place since 2007, the new constitution is to take effect this year by May 28. A Constituent Assembly is now condensing drafts from 11 parliamentary committees into a final draft constitution, negotiating with the committees to create a document that represents the many interests of the vying political parties.

Nepal was a Hindu nation until 2006, when the Maoists, a communist popular movement, helped push the king from power and establish a democracy. Currently, three leading political parties, the Maoists, the Unified Marxist Leninists and the Nepali Congress, control the government through a majority.

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