CHRISTIANS IN NEPAL CONCERNED OVER SLOW PACE OF TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY
*Representative photo used to protect identity
From World Watch Monitor
As Nepal struggles to respond to the massive earthquake and aftershocks during the weekend that left thousands dead and injured, the world has offered aid to a country which is still one of the poorest and most isolated in Asia, despite its attractive image for mountaineers and Western backpackers.
It’s still overcoming the legacy of its 10-year Maoist insurgency and the final abolition of its monarchy in 2008. The Hindu-majority country is yet to establish its new Constitution, a key part of the agreement with the Maoists at the end of its civil war.
There’s “a lot more still to be done” before Nepal’s political parties arrive at a consensus on a new Constitution, a leader of one of the ruling parties said last week. KP Sharma Oli of the United Marxist Leninist party said it’s unlikely to be ready by the latest proposed date of May 29, and that the country might even have to wait another year. It follows an earlier remark by Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, who said the constitution was just “a mouse click away.”
Further delays would be a disappointment to the country’s Christians and other minority religions hopeful that the new constitution will guarantee them equal rights and religious freedoms. The country had been expecting the new Constitution to be ready before April 13.
The country’s first democratic election was held in 2008, after a bloody civil war led by Maoist guerrillas overthrew the monarchy. Nepal’s Christians – 3 percent of the population – hope for equal rights and religious freedom to be guaranteed in the new Constitution. But now, as its political parties fail to agree what it will contain, Christians, who have suffered persecution and inequality for decades, are uncertain about their future.
Pastor Ram Prasad Shrestha, National Mission Commission of Nepal, says: “There’s no respect for Christianity, and of course we are not allowed to have open fellowship. The government allows us to have fellowship inside a hall or a building, but our churches are not registered. That’s a huge difficulty we have.”
Pastor Sundar Thapa, Federation of National Christians – Nepal, notes: “The church is not legally recognized by the government. That’s why the property of the church is in the name of three to four people. Sometimes, the church loses the property, so we are really worried about the future.”
For the complete World Watch Monitor story, go to https://www.worldwatchmonitor.org/2015/04/3826342/.
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Christy Lynn Wilson at 770-401-9842.