Christians in Nepal fear for their lives as the level of persecution against them escalates.
Many Nepali Christians endure violence from Hindu extremists who demand that the country return to a Hindu state. Christians make up only 1-2% of the country’s predominantly Hindu population and persecution against them heightened following the anti-conversion laws in 2017, reports Premier.
Religion is unique for each person, it is a personal choice to practice any new religious belief and expression. —Father Silas Bogati, vicar general of the Apostolic Vicariate of Nepal
Religious freedom charity Open Doors revealed that, “Any Christian talking about Christianity can be falsely accused of converting now, and there are several such incidents taking place.”
A series of incidents targeting Christians make it more difficult for believers to practice their faith. Organizers changed the venues of a religious retreat in Kathmandu Valley and a prayer service in the city of Patan after receiving threats from Hindu extremists. On March 24, a pastor was beaten by a mob in a remote area in Nepal after he was accused of proselytizing, reports Uganda Christian News.
Open Doors said authorities demolished Batase Prayer Tower recently. “It was built in the area of government forest. The authorities destroyed it suddenly, without any prior notice. They didn’t even allow anyone to take pictures or videos.”
The anti-persecution watchdog added that a political party in Nepal attacked a Christian run hospital, ‘The Leprosy Mission.’ Shiv Sena Nepal accused the hospital staff of encouraging patients to convert to Christianity in exchange for treatments.
Many petitions have come up to urge the government to scrap, and not just lessen the penalties of the anti- conversion law. Under the law, a person convicted of evangelizing in Nepal could face up to five years and jail and a $470 fine.
“Asking for a reduction in punishment is not part of the solution to the big problem that is looming in front of us [concerning] religious freedom,” said Father Silas Bogati, vicar general of the Apostolic Vicariate of Nepal.
The priest pointed out that, “Religion is unique for each person, it is a personal choice to practice any new religious belief and expression.”
C.B. Gahatraj, secretary-general of the Federation of National Christians of Nepal, agreed with Father Bogati. He said the government should remove references about protecting Sanatan Dharma in its laws which is being used as an excuse to ignore religious minorities.
It may be hard for Christians to live in Nepal because of persecution, but it didn’t hinder people from following Jesus. Since 2008, over 8,000 churches were established and more than a million Nepalis converted to Christianity.