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ICC Note:

Earlier this week, Nepal adopted a new constitution after nearly a decade of drafting and redrafting. Unfortunately, within the final draft of that constitution, religious conversion is explicitly criminalized. Christians, who make up a very small minority of Nepal’s population, fear this language in the constitution will be used to stop all Christian activities in Nepal, something Hindu radical groups have advocated in favor of for years. Despite this constitutional constraint, Christianity remains important in Nepal’s recovery from the earthquakes that devastated the country earlier this year. 

9/23/2015 Nepal (Huffington Post) – Earlier this year, Nepal was devastated by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that killed more than 9,000 people and left hundreds of thousands more injured. Today, the country continues to rebuild itself in the wake of this monumental, devastating natural disaster thanks to the support of an unlikely partner — the Christian church.

The Christian church is an unlikely partner because Hinduism reigns as the primary religion in Nepal. In fact, out of Nepal’s population of 28 million, Christians make up less than 1.5 percent. Legally, you can be a Christian in Nepal. However, socially, it’s unacceptable as Nepali Christians have suffered inequality and persecution for decades. In fact, just this week the Emmanuel Wesleyan Church in Kathamadu was fire bombed as a result of protesters who were upset that the government did not declare Nepal to be a Hindu nation.

The threat against Christianity remains and is so prominent that the country’s recently proposed constitution contains a provision that, in effect, renders any Christian activity in the country illegal. The new law prohibits people from converting from one faith to another. Any potential conversion behavior – which may include activities such as church meetings or prayer gatherings that could potentially influence the conversion of another – is punishable by law.

Despite this inequality among religions in Nepal, the recent earthquake disaster showed us that relief is most effective when faiths work together to recover and rebuild. While the Christian church has a small footprint in the country, it is uniquely situated to help rural communities that are otherwise very difficult to reach.

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