02/26/2019 Nepal (International Christian Concern) – Christianity is continuing to grow among Nepal’s low caste communities despite increased persecution and the passage of a law that makes religious conversion illegal. Many Dalits, formally known as “untouchables”, see converting to Christianity as a means of escape from the widespread discrimination they experience as a part of the caste system.
According to UCA News, there are between 3.6 million and 5 million Dalits in Nepal. In many cases, members of the Dalit community suffer widespread discrimination because of their low caste identity.
According to estimates by The Federation of National Christians Nepal (FNCN), 65% of newly converted Christians in Nepal come from Dalit or low caste backgrounds. This estimate bears testament to the number of Dalits converting to Christianity likely in an attempt to break free from the widespread caste discrimination that often comes to define their lives.
Due to this trend of conversion, Hindu radicals in Nepal have started taking steps to curb the number of Dalits converting to Christianity. False accusations of forced conversions, intimidation, and violence have all been used against Nepal’s tiny Christian community.
In 2018, at the behest of Hindu nationalists, Nepal enacted a law that made it illegal to convert someone from one religion to another. According to the law, an individual found guilty of “any action” that causes someone to convert from one religion to another could be imprisoned up to five years.
Still, many Dailts are willing to risk criminal prosecution to convert to Christianity and escape the discrimination they face under the caste system. This makes Nepal still home to one of the fastest growing Christian communities on the planet.
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