Proposed Nepal Constitution Could Threaten Religious Freedom
Proposed anti-conversion laws could threaten religious freedom in Nepal, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), who have warned that the wording of the constitution could mean religious freedom for Nepalese citizens would be “severely curtailed”
The proposed constitution includes a clause that states: “… no one shall attempt to change or convert someone from one religion to another, or disturb/jeopardise the religion of others, and such acts/activities shall be punishable by law.”
A CSW briefing has branded the draft clauses as “inconsistent with the international human rights framework, and says that “It fails to allow for choosing and changing one’s faith to be seen as a positive individual choice or as a matter of individual rights,”
CSW has also expressed concern that the legislation could be interpreted to mean that anyone who talks about their faith to someone of a different religion could be accused of attempted conversion, and punished by law.
“This endangers two internationally guaranteed fundamental rights of every individual: firstly the right to enjoy full freedom of expression, and secondly the right to follow a religion of his or her own choice and to manifest that religion in word and action.”
“CSW continues to urge all political parties and leaders in Nepal to insist that this right be fully guaranteed in the new constitution.”
Until 2008, Nepal was the only official Hindu state in the world, but was then declared a secular republic. However, the right-wing Rashtriya Prajatantra Party has called for a ban on all religious conversions and reports say that the government agreed to these demands on 3rd July.
Nepalese Christians account for less than two per cent of the Hindu-majority population of 28 million people.
- Pray for the Nepal Government as it works to produce a new constitution. Pray that it will seek to maintain the rights of all people to religious freedom, and to worship without fear.
- Pray for organisations in Nepal who are lobbying the government for religious freedom, that their voices will be heard.
- Pray for Christians in Nepal, and for the Nepalese Church, to be a positive witness in the country, sharing the Gospel of Jesus with Love and that many will come to know His Truth and Life.
- Continue to pray for Nepal as it rebuilds after the earthquakes.
2 Timothy 2 vs 1 – 2: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.”