Intolerant Nepal: Yet Another Hyperbole?
Search for news on religious freedom in Nepal or laws regarding religious conversion and you will see numerous websites claiming wildly different things. The Christian sites have painted picture of Nepal where religious freedom applies only to dominant Hindus, while some fanatics are determined to make public the “atrocity” of Christian evangelism.
What is the reality? Is Nepal that intolerant to religious minorities, as some of these websites claim? Count the number of Churches and prayer halls springing up in Kathmandu and across Nepal, you will be surprised. The numbers are high enough to nullify any claim that Nepal is against Christians. But traditional attitudes take time to change. There are some who view Christians as “sell outs” and “outsiders”. Those fanatics should be condemned and by and large greater Nepali society has kept these idiots at bay.
It is unfair, then, to chastise an entire nation because of few intolerant idiots.There are religious fanatics here in US who say if you are not a Christian, you are going to hell; and they say this publicly. Has anyone questioned religious freedom in the US? No.Look back at the fiasco created by religious conservatives around the country after the news of Ground Zero Mosque broke.America is still the land of the free.
They why is Nepal being singled out for few bad apples?The Christian websites criticizing Nepal don’t have anything on Muslims being singled out in democratic western countries.Is religious freedom they so dearly love a one way street where only Christians may walk? As they claim to be on a crusade for religious freedom then I believe it is justified to expect that they would push to extend the same for other religious groups in their midst.
Whipping up the hyperbole on Nepal are two recent developments. The question on the burial ground row and a law against conversion being introduced, they do pose troubling questions. Should Christians be allowed to bury their dead on Hindu holy grounds? No. Not because the Christians are any less Nepali or deserve any less respect but to keep the communal harmony and mutual respect intact. Why incite violence by knowingly allowing on community to encroach upon sacred land of another?That is not the way to preserve and aid religious freedom.
Instead the government should pay for a separate burial ground for Christians. Yes, the government should do it because its their duty to safeguard rights of minorities.
And on the conversion law, an adult should be free to make their own choices. It is not government’s job to decide for them. Converting one’s religion is a serious sensitive matter, so an individual should have the privacy and freedom to judge for themselves. Nepal is a secular country and enforcing religious choices is not what government should be doing. This law is a bad idea, and should be stopped.
Hindu fanatics too should take a look at the frenzy they are creating. Hinduism has been around for more than 2000 years. It has survived and continues to thrive.Why belittle Hinduism with insane claims that Christian missionaries in Nepal and India are out to finish off our religion and way of life? What these fanatics are doing is basically encouraging discrimination and fear in name of protecting “our culture” and “our religion”. Shame on them, Hinduism as always preached tolerance and acceptance.If they cannot accept Christians, they have to be taught Hindu principles again.
Unfortunately the websites are busy creating a hype and hoax about an intolerant Nepal or an oncoming Christian wave.They do not have space for balanced discussion. None of them have bothered to check Nepal’s history on religious freedom or current reality. It is either Christians are suffering or they are killing Hindu Nepali culture.
And these hyperbole’s are gaining more traction than those calling for calm and rational discussion.
Originally published at Nepal Blogs on June 10,2011.