Nepal Constitution Crisis Places Christian Ministries in Peril
KATHMANDU, Nepal, July 22, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ — Political factions in this mountainous country are debating a new constitution that includes anti-conversion laws and underscores decades-old religious tension. If ratified, the result could be a likely crackdown and severe persecution for dozens of Christian ministries serving there.
Photo: This is a critical time for prayer on behalf of the people in Nepal as the government seeks to ratify a new constitution.
With the country facing its constitutional crisis, Gospel for Asia Founder Dr. K. P. Yohannan is issuing a call to prayer for Nepal.
“Right now, religious minorities in the country fear their freedom to practice and share their faith will be severely restricted if the current draft of the constitution goes unchanged,” said Yohannan. “Will you pray with me for this situation? Pray that the governing authorities will be guided by wisdom as they work to finalize Nepal’s constitution. Pray also that God’s people will be granted freedom to worship.”
The constitutional language in question states, “[…] any act which may be contrary to public health, public decency or morality or incitement to breach public peace or act to convert another person from one religion to another or any act or behavior to undermine or jeopardize the religion of each other is not allowed and such act shall be punishable by law.”
The Nepalese government continues to seek input from its citizens before the Civic Relations and Constitution Recommendation Committee of the Constituent Assembly receives the final constitution draft on July 23. The government plans to finalize the constitution by mid-August.
Violence erupted between police and protesters in southern Nepal when government officials held a public meeting to gain citizen input to the constitution, according to news reports from the region. The protesters threw chairs at the deputy prime minister.
This isolated country wedged between India and China historically has been a Hindu nation, and most protesters are demanding a return to that status. Nepalese monarchs advocated Hinduism, and the people believed their monarchs were the reincarnation of Vishnu, a Hindu god.
A secular republic led by Maoists abolished the traditional monarchies in 2008 and welcomed the humanitarian aid of Christian organizations. Only about 2 percent of Nepalese are Christians.
Gospel for Asia has a long-standing history of support in Nepal for Believers Church, a network of 450 churches and 20 Bridge of Hope Centers that serve downtrodden children. During the earthquakes in April and May, Gospel for Asia responded quickly with Believers Church workers already on the ground. Their response grew to include Compassion Services teams that delivered basic supplies and other goods and built shelters in remote mountain areas.
Gospel for Asia (www.gfa.org) is a mission organization sharing the love of Jesus across South Asia.