Nepal: Pastor sentenced to a year in jail for alleged forced conversions
by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – A pastor in Nepal has been sentenced by a court of appeals to a year in prison for allegedly forcing Hindus to convert to Christianity, International Christian Concern (ICC) reports. The population in Nepal is 81.3% Hindu, followed by 9% Buddhist, 4/4% Islamic, and 1.4 % Christian, according to Wikipedia.
Reverend Keshav Acharya was arrested on charges of coercion and was originally sentenced to two years imprisonment by a district court in November, ICC reports. However, upon appeal, a High Court has now reduced his sentence to one year.
In a statement about the case, human rights advocacy group, Voice for Justice said: “It is illegal and unethical to compel someone to change their faith by use of threat or coercion; however, Pastor Keshav Acharya did not resort to coercion to convert anyone to Christianity […] The pastor only exercised his right to freedom of religion and did not commit any offense.”
Inherent ambiguity in Nepal’s religion laws has led to Christians being falsely accused of forced conversions, ICC said. Indeed, Nepal ranks 48th on the US Open USA Doors World Watch List 2022 of top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted.
“Though Nepal is no longer an official Hindu state, most Christian persecution in Nepal comes from radical Hindu groups who want the country to return to Hinduism,” Open Doors USA explains in a website statement. “Many of the Christians in Nepal are converts from Hinduism, and these converts experience significant pressure from their families and communities.”
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