Eight Christians in Nepal who were charged with proselytizing have been acquitted by a court on December 6, according to Baptist Press.
The seven men and one woman were arrested in Charikot, Dolakha District in June and were accused of trying to convert children to Christianity by means of a comic book. This is the first case of religious freedom in Nepal since the implementation of its new constitution.
Evangelizing is against the law under Nepal’s new constitution passed in September 2015. The law prohibits anyone to “convert a person of one religion to another religion, or disturb the religion of other people.”
Seven of the detained Christians work for Christian school Teach Nepal and one is a Pastor Shakti Pakhrin of the Charikot Christian church. Teach Nepal chairman Barnabas Shrestha denied trying to convert their students.
Evangelizing has been illegal in Nepal even before the new laws, and advocacy groups have recently detected increased effots in crackdown on Christian activities.
“The most plausible reason for this anti-Christian policy is that the already fragile Nepali government wishes to create goodwill amongst its Hindu majority,” advocacy group Jubilee Campaign reported.
Now, the charges against the eight Christians were dropped by the court and Christian leaders in Nepal applauded the decision.
“We welcome this acquittal of the eight Christians in Charikot,” Christian Solidarity Worldwide Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas stated. “However, we join our voices with civil society in Nepal in urging the government of Nepal to amend Section 26 of the new constitution and ensure that it — along with the draft penal code — guarantees full freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression. The right to freedom of religion or belief is of particular importance in Nepal, as the country recently made the transition from a Hindu monarchy to a secular democratic republic.”
Bpnewsnet. (2016). Baptist Press. http://bpnews.net/48006/crackdown-on-christians-in-nepal-hits-snag
Christiandailycom. (2016). Christiandailycom. http://christiandaily.com/article/nepal-drops-proselytizing-charges-against-8-christians/59597.htm
Brnoworg. (2016). Brnow. http://www.brnow.org/News/December-2016/Crackdown-on-Christians-in-Nepal-hits-snag