30 April 2012

Freedom of religion under threat in Nepal

Last June, Christian in Nepal asked the Church in Britain to pray for freedom of religion in Nepal. This has been threatened by a draft law (Article 160 the 'Offence against religions act'.) which would make it illegal to do anything which might be construed as influencing someone to change their religion. Such a phrase might cover almost anything a religious person might do.

Despite the lobbying and concerns raised with the Nepal Government at that time and over the intervening months, the draft act has now been submitted to the 'billing committee.' This committee has responsibility for finalizing the wording, before it is submitted to parliament for approval.

The wording of the draft clause remains unchanged from last June, despite the concerns that have been raised with the Government.

Steve Pearce, world church partnership coordinator for the Methodist Church in Britain, said: "Article 160 is a clear breach of basic human rights, and undermines both Nepal as a secular state and the progress made on freedom of religion."

Mark Galpin, Executive Director of partner organisation United Mission to Nepal, writes: "I would therefore urge you to continue your prayers on this issue, and mobilise others to pray as well."

Prayer for Nepal:

Creator God,
we thank you that we can share your creative nature as we grow and can develop ideas in arts, sciences and religion.
Help us to enjoy these riches in a spirit of thankfulness and joy.
When we are tempted to let differences divide us, give us a spirit of generosity and grace.
We pray especially now for Nepal, where freedom of religion may be threatened by a new law,
And for Pakistan where the blasphemy law spawns injustice and fear.
May your Church in these countries know the strength of your love and justice,
And may their politicians seek the best for all the people they serve.
May your will be done.

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