Nepal: Country retains its secular status yet Christians fear anti-conversion provisons in law

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Christians in Nepal

Nepal opts for a secular outlook after the lawmakers vote for secularism.

According to media reports, Nepal, has been the sole officially Hindu state on the face of earth till 2007, has opted to uphold its secular status in a new constitution after anti-conversion proposals; which sparked much debate over the fate of other religions.

The other religious communities take a sigh of relief after the nullification of much anticipated proposal to strip Nepal of its secular characteristics, while declaring it an officially Hindu. On the other hand, some of the religious communities are still anxious over the fact that law “forbidding religious conversion and proselytizing could be used to target minorities in the future.”

Also read: Christianity prohibited in an Indian village, Hindus attack Christians injuring two women

In keeping with details, the Nepalese lawmakers voted down a contentious proposed amendment according to which Nepal would officially become a Hindu state. It was rejected overpoweringly by more than two-thirds of lawmakers in the Nepalese Constituent Assembly.

Father Silas Bogati, Vicar general of the Apostolic Vicariate of Nepal said, “Secularism is not only an issue of religion, but stands for freedom and equality within all the religions.” He added that according to this decision the state would not endorse any religion over another, while the citizens will have their own identity and faith and a free will to choose their religion.

Regardless of this recent vote for secularism, some of the representatives of religious minorities still harbour dissatisfaction over the fact that the Nepalese constitution still harbours wording stating that the state will safeguard “Sanatan Dharma” which is frequently used as an substitute term to describe Hinduism. Seeing this, the Nepalese Christian leaders are continuously expressing concerns about legal provisions which might target “religious conversions and proselytizing.”