Nepalis Under Siege

June 2, 2005

Author: Hari Bansh Jha and N.N. Thakur

Source: Hinduism Today

The ancient Nepalese citadel of Himalayan Dharma is beseiged. Despite the official Hindu state status and anti-proselytization laws barring conversion, the nation's Hindus and Buddhists are being converted to Christianity and Islam by sophisticated outside missionary forces.

On January 9, 1995, the Nepalese World Hindu Federation (WHF) held a reception for Nepal's Prime Minister, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ministers and the members of the House of Representatives and charged Christian missions with illegal conversion of poor and ignorant Nepalese in backward areas by means of various temptations.

Prior to 1990, Christian missionary activity was dealt with severely under a village panchayat system backed by the monarchy. But after the overthrow of the monarchy in 1990, political parties-the Nepali Congress (NC) and the Communist Party of Nepal-raised their voice in favor of a secular state. Traditional sentiment was too strong and the constitutional provision that Nepal be a Hindu state was preserved. Conversion of religion remained banned under the new democratic government. But elected officials are making no effort to protect Hindu interests. Former Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala of the Nepali Congress (NC) is on record as having said in 1993, "If I want to change my religion, who is to stop me?" Despite public visits by officials to famous Hindu temples, the present Marxist/Leninist minority government has no ideological committment to religion in any form and simply ignores missionary activity.

Christians are taking advantage of the situation. In a recent issue of Pulse magazine detailing world evangelism, David McBride, Kathmandu Christian correspondent, proudly reports, "Particularly spectacular numerical growth has been experienced since the democratic revolution of 1990, which allowed open evangelism for the first time, and the church as a whole has been taking advantage of that freedom." A 1960 census said Hindus form 89% of all Nepalese. The 1991 census showed a drop to 86% of the total 18 million, a decline of 3%. According to the 1991 census report, the population of Hindus (86%) was followed by the Buddhists (7%) and Muslims (4%). Saubhagya Shah reported in his article, "The Gospel Comes to the Hindu Kingdom," that each of the 75 districts in the country has at least one church and that Kathmandu Valley alone has over 100 churches and congregations. He also presents how the Christians plan to reach every home and set up a church in every village by the year 2000.