“The law is not against Christians who do great work in the service of the country,” Nepali Justice Minister Prabhu Sah told AsiaNews, “but is against the imposition of Christianity.”
Sah said that Hindus and Buddhists have complained about conversions by aggressive proselytising by Protestant communities. “These charges do not apply to Catholics,” the minister said.
Isu Jang Karki, head of the Nepal Christian Society, a Protestant group, slams the government proposal, saying that the charges about forced conversions are false.
Religious minorities are not represented in parliament and the new code could be adopted without Christian input. Moreover, it could be used by Hindu extremists.
Nepal became a secular state in 2007 after centuries of Hindu absolutist monarchy. According to the transitional constitution, adopted under the aegis of the United Nations, proselytising is banned, but all Nepali citizens are free to express their faith, including through missionary and charity work.
According to some Church officials, thousands of Hindus have converted to Christianity after the fall of the monarchy. Each Sunday, more than 200 non-Christians attend Mass in Kathmandu’s Catholic cathedral.
However, recent political and economic instability caused by a power struggle among secular parties has strengthened Hindu movements, which seek the restoration of the monarchy and want to end conversions at all cost.