Nepal has started enforcing a new law criminalizing religious conversions and the “hurting of religious feelings.”
Last year, Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari signed the bill which is similar to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. The Clause 158 of section 9 of the Law bans statements and activities that insult another’s religion, reports the Uganda Christian News. Religious conversion is now illegal in Nepal and is punishable by five years in prison and a fine of $500 (50,000 rupees).
But Christians do not worry about it, they continue following the calling of God…with a passion they’re engaged to fulfill the vision that is from God. —Pastor in Nepal
Critics condemned the anti-conversion law, expecting the government and militant groups to misuse it against religious minorities such as Christians.
Professor Tanka Subedi, chairperson of Nepal’s Religious Liberty Forum, criticized the statement of Prime Minister K.P. Oli in March. The PM revealed that the government has deported many foreigners for converting Nepalis to other religions.
“When we heard [these] things from the prime minister, that was not what we expect from a guardian. He is our prime minister. Christians have also voted for him. And many people are following his party who are in the Church,” said Professor Subedi.
Those in favor of the “No Conversion” laws turned to social media to promote their ideals. They also discouraged other Nepalis from promoting evangelism and welcoming preachers, reports Premier. People who teach about Christianity in public places were being videotaped and Christians were being shamed through various social media platforms.
More than 80% of Nepal’s population of 26 million are Hindus while Christians, according to a 2011 census, are just 364,000. Many believed that there are more Christians than what the official government data said, but due to fear, those Christians remained registered as Hindus.
According to Mission Network News, Nepal has “one of the fastest growing churches” in the world. However, the Church in Nepal is facing a leadership crisis—there are not enough church leaders to accommodate the growing number of Christians in the country.
“As the Church grows, the Hindu fanatic groups are challenging us and threatening us. Also, some particular groups are raising their price to suppress the Christians,” said a pastor in Nepal. “But Christians do not worry about it, they continue following the calling of God…with a passion they’re engaged to fulfill the vision that is from God.”