NEPAL – VIEWS ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN DRAFT CONSTITUTION NOT PROGRESSIVE

www.barnabasfund.org The Constituent Assembly of Nepal is drafting a new constitution, but it is unlikely that this will improve religious liberty. While many progressive changes in particular areas of governance have been proposed by the Assembly’s committees, the Committee on Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles (CFRDP) wants the country to retain the existing ban on activities aimed at religious conversion. The Preliminary Draft presented by the CFRDP seeks to make punishable any attempt to convert people.

None of the 43 members of the CFRDP is Christian. Ms Binda Pandey, who heads the Committee said, “We received a few suggestions from some missionaries who wanted the freedom to convert, but that was not what the majority wanted.” This suggests that religious freedom is seen as an issue of interest only to Christian missionaries, and not as a fundamental human right.

The 2007 interim constitution that is currently in force restricts religious freedom, banning any activity aimed at conversion and stating that a person may practise religion only as passed down to them from ancient times.

Official figures suggest there are now more than half a million Christians in Nepal, and some church leaders put the figure much higher, though it remains a very small proportion (2-3%) of the total population. Hinduism makes up more than 75% of the total population, followed by Buddhism (16%) and Islam (5%).

  • Praise the Lord for the remarkable growth of the Nepalese churches. Pray especially for those who seek to share their faith, that they may not be reported and punished for their faithfulness to the Lord and that He may continue to add to their number.
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