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ICC Note:

Christianity in Nepal is continuing to grow despite the legal roadblocks that have been put in front of it. According to some sources, Christianity in Nepal is among the fastest growing Christian community in the world. In August 2017, the Nepalese government passed a strict anti-conversion law that made it illegal to convert from one religion to another. Many claim this law was aimed at curbing the growth of Christianity in Nepal. Will Christianity continue to grow as rapidly as it has over the past decade or will new legal challenges curb its growth?

12/27/2017 Nepal (The Christian Times) – Christianity has rapidly grown in Nepal over the last two decades despite the mainly Hindu country’s strict laws against religious conversions.

The influence of Christian missionaries has been growing in Nepal, where Christianity is viewed by many as an escape from the deeply entrenched caste system.

According to Agence France Presse (AFP), Nepal was under the rule of a Hindu monarchy for over two centuries until it was overthrown in 2008. The country also has a strong Buddhist tradition, particularly in the mountainous north.

But in the remote Lapa Valley, many residents have converted to Christianity and the region is now said to be predominantly Christian.

One of the recent converts to the faith was Rika Tamang, who became a Christian after his mother fell ill and the family struggled to pay for animal sacrifices that were recommended by a local shaman.

“Whatever I had, I had to offer as a sacrifice to god. Once I converted to Christianity I didn’t have to make sacrifices. I was relieved of that burden,” said Tamang, who now serves as a pastor of his village in Lapa Valley.

A government census in 2011 has indicated that Christians make up less than 1.5 percent of Nepal’s population of 29 million. Christian groups estimated that actual number could be more than 3 million and locals have noted that the census tended to classify people by the faith associated with their family name, which means that many converts were excluded.

The village of Richet, which is located in Lapa Valley, was one of the first regions where Christianity took hold.

After a powerful earthquake struck the region in April 2015, a group of South Korean and Singaporean missionaries turned up and surveyed the damage. A few months later, bags of cement arrived to repair the damaged church in the village.

Some have accused foreign missionaries of using aid to convert people in the impoverished country. Prashant Tamang, a community leader in the nearby village of Borang that has clung to its Buddhist heritage, lamented that the selective distribution of aid had created tensions between communities.

“Dispute arises sometimes when Christians pressure poor people to adopt their religion by helping them in the time of need,” he told AFP.

Proselytizing has long been banned in Nepal, and a new criminal code will be implemented in August 2018, increasing the potential jail sentence for those convicted of the crime from three to five years. The new law also states that foreigners sentenced of the crime will be deported after serving their time.

Activists believe that the new criminal code was aimed at curbing the rapidly growing Christian community. They said that it bears similarities to Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws, which are often used to stir mob violence against minority groups.

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