Nepal debuts on Open Doors' World Watch List of worst Christian persecutors

Nepal has debuted this year on Open Doors' World Watch List of countries where Christians face the worst religious persecution, as its secular government is being run mostly by Hindu officials.

(REUTERS / Navesh Chitrakar)The national flag of Nepal is waved during a mass gathering in Kathmandu May 23, 2012.

Speaking to The Christian Post in an interview, full-time Christian pastor Bharat Giri explained how Nepal landed on the 25th spot of Open Doors' World Watch List. He said the human rights abuses and negligence of religious minorities are now increasing.

"We are dominated by India," Pastor Giri told the Post. "They are promoting only the Hindu people."

In addition, Pastor Giri highlighted Nepal's new law that criminalizes religious conversions as one of the main factors driving the religious persecution in the country. He said the law was being used to punish people who want to embrace the Christian faith.

Pastor Giri cited a few cases where Christians have been targeted by the anti-conversion law. In one instance more than a year ago, a group of believers were jailed for nine months for distributing religious materials. In East Nepal, a woman who had been looking after poor children was imprisoned for three months after being accused of converting other people to the Christian faith.

Christians are not the only ones affected by the situation. There were some Buddhists who were jailed for eating cow meat, as hardline Hindus consider cows to be sacred.

Meanwhile, many Christians in Nepal have petitioned the government to repeal the anti-conversion law. A local minister called Pastor Chhatri (not his real name) said the new measure has sown fear among the believers, but they are still encouraging members of the Christian community to continue sharing the Gospel and adjust to the situation, the Mission Network News reported.

Despite the persecution it faces from the government and from the Hindu majority, the Christian church in Nepal is growing at a rapid rate. In fact, the fast growth of the Christian population has reportedly led to a shortage in church leaders. Still, Pastor Chhatri said they have to continue encouraging one another and spreading the message of Christ's love to others.