Christians in Nepal took part in peaceful prayer gatherings across the country on the occasion of Christmas on Thursday. In Kathmandu, after the prayer, the Christian community of Kathmandu gathered at Pragya Bhawan, Kamaladi where they sang Christmas carols, participated in sermon and organized love feast.
“This time around, the quest for our identity is momentous, given the fact that the right to conversion has become a hotly-debated issue,” said CB Gahatraj, general secretary of the Federation of the National Christians.
Gahatraj said the community was dismayed by the calls to reinstate Nepal into a Hindu state by some political leaders. He added that the right to conversion of religion must be ensured as it has been guaranteed by the interim constitution.
“We are against forceful conversion of religion, but that does not mean willful adoption of religion should be barred,” he stated.
Assuring the religious minority that the new constitution would not curtail their rights in future, CA Chairperson Subhash Chandra Nembang stated at the program that secularism and conversion were the issues of the first CA that are owned by the second CA as well.
Minister for Finance Ram Sharan Mahat and the former speaker of parliament Daman Nath Dhungana supported Nembang´s statement and assured the religious minority of equality in the new constitution.
Speaking about the most controversial issue regarding the religious conversion, KB Rokaya, initiator of the Sagarmatha Church and General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Nepal stated that the thin line between the willful conversion and the forceful one was being misunderstood.
“If there are any such activities happening in Nepal, it is the government´s responsibility to prevent it. We will cooperate with the government to bring to the book the people who attempt to convert people through enticements,” stated Rokaya, adding that people who convert their religion for some benefits will always be looked at with suspicion,” said Rokaya.