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Nepal to prosecute Evangelicals for spreading Gospel

by Hannah Tooley

According to BosNewsLife, seven Christians were detained in June in an area ruined by the 2015 earthquake after they were seen giving out Bibles at a school.

Authorities say this violates an article of Nepal's constitution on religious freedom which says that "no person shall act or make others act in a manner which is contrary to public health, decency and morality, or ...convert a person of one religion to another religion".

Later in the month, authorities arrested Pastor Shakti Pakhrin for his connection to those already detained for proselytizing (trying to convert others).

Another pastor, Jeevan Lama, told BosNewsLife the Christian detainees - who reportedly included two school principals, a driver and teaching ministry staff - were tortured.

The senior pastor at the Hebron United Methodist Church Nepal congregation knew Pastor Shakti Pakhrin.

Others were also arrested alongside Christians, including members of the post-earthquake reconstruction group Teach Nepal.

The group were released after several days but have been told to appear in court; no date has yet been set.

Nepalese authorities have not commented on reports of torture during their detention but did suggested the Christians can expect to face charges of distributing Bibles with the purpose of converting students.

The media has been told that authorities found the Christians after "complaints from local politicians and guardians."

The detained eight maintain they have not done anything wrong and claim they only gave Bibles "to Christian students" who had specifically asked for them.

Pressure group, Federation of National Christian Nepal has urged Home Affairs Minister Shakti Bahadur Basnet to stop the prosecution of the eight.

It said: "Accusations against them are false and designed to create fear among other Christians."

Nepal has a population of around 32 million and the International Institute for Religious Freedom says around 2.3 million Christians live there.

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