Christians in Nepal fear of a looming prohibition of practicing Christianity under the new constitution.
According to media reports, the government of Nepal is preparing a draft of first ever post-monarchy constitution. The draft being prepared allegedly contains legal provisions that could in due course render all Christian practices in the country unlawful.
World Watch Monitor says under new constitutional charter, even holding church services within reach to all, or even simply organising events to aid the disadvantaged could be interpreted as “evangelistic” and, therefore, would be likely punishable by law.
In this regard, the World Watch Monitor issued a report on August 7, in which it was stated that Nepal’s newly drafted charter actually contains provisions to concentrate on secularism, which can pave the way for an “anti-conversion clause” to be included in the penal code.
World Watch Monitor reported, “Article 31(3) states that ‘any act to convert another person from one religion to another, or any act or behaviour to undermine or jeopardise the religion of another will be punishable by law.”
World Watch Monitor further states that, “Christians fear this will pave the way for an ‘anti-conversion clause’ to be written into the penal code, which could result in prison sentences or hefty fines for “offenders.”
Besides, The World Watch Monitor has put in plain words that even as the amendments relate to all religions, the new constitution did not contain any specification as to what represents an “act to convert.”
The World Watch Monitor said, “The Church has never been recognised as an official religious institution within Nepal, and Nepali Christians complain that they have suffered inequality and persecution for decades.”
“Christians had hoped that a new constitution enshrined by the new secular democracy would guarantee equal rights and religious freedom for all,” it added.