Nepal Moves To Restrict Religious Freedom

We ask for your prayers. While Jubilee Campaign has been working hard to promote religious freedom in Nepal, the tools available to us work slowly. Unfortunately, the political landscape of a nation in transition changes very rapidly, and we may have run out of time.

On Monday, the Prime Minister of Nepal promised to negotiate an agreement on the constitution before August 13th. He vowed to step down if no agreement materialized. The Prime Minister appears to be gambling his career on the idea that he can make a deal happen in the next nine days.

Current drafts of the constitution contain language that bans any activities leading or contributing to conversions. Anti-minority sentiment in the police force and courts could easily use this language to criminalize all public expression of minority religions.

Nepal’s proposed criminal code goes further and bans conduct which insults or undermines a religion. The religious provisions in the proposed constitution and criminal code reinforce one another. Together they create a comprehensive legal framework that will virtually eliminate religious freedom of conscience and choice for all Nepali.

Friends of Jubilee Campaign in Nepal and India contacted us about this dangerous language. We reached out to contacts in the U.S. Government hoping to resolve this through quiet diplomatic channels. While not flashy, quiet diplomacy can be extremely effective with enough time. The Prime Minister’s announcement does not give us that time.

If Nepal adopts this constitution, religious liberty will retrogress to pre-1990 monarchy imposed restrictions on religious choice, and it will seriously harm the rights of religious minorities. The damage might take a generation or more to undo.

Yet Nepal desperately needs a constitution. The Maoist party, formerly the Maoist resistance, has camps of armed men capable of further destabilizing the country. On the other side of the spectrum the Hindu nationalists call for the return of the old Hindu Monarchy. The common people are beginning to lose faith that a new constitution will ever be passed threatening the legitimacy of the government. The resignation of the Prime Minister will only increase these polarizing trends.

Although the solution appears allusive, we must seek and pray for peace.  Failure to pass any constitution may send Nepal spiraling down the path back to civil war.

Pray That:

-God will touch the leaders of Nepal and give them the wisdom to see the negative consequences of this discriminatory and restrictive language

-Those in the US embassy who are advocating for religious freedom with the Nepalese Government would be heard

-The Lord would give His church wisdom and gentleness to respond to accusations that they force conversions and that they would continue to preach the Word peacefully and faithfully

Thank you for standing with us and with the church in Nepal.

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