by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - A court in Nepal has sentenced Christian pastor Keshav Acharya to two years imprisonment for violating a harsh law against proselytizing, International Christian Concern reports.
With Hinduism as its predominant religion, Nepal criminalized proselytization under Article 26 of its new constitution: anyone who does anything that might cause a person to convert to Christianity can be fined and imprisoned for up to five years, ICC reports.
Under article 26, “No person shall behave, act or make others act to disturb public law and order situation or convert a person of one religion to another or disturb the religion of other people…such an act shall be punished by law.” The terms of the law are so vague and broad that a person could be sent to prison for even discussing Christianity with a Hindu.
Pastor Keshav Acharya was arrested on April 19, 2020, and charged under the anti-conversion law for proselytizing and distributing Christian tracts in Dolpa, ICC said. Sentencing Pastor Acharya to two years in jail, the District Court in Dolpa also fined him 20,000 Rupees ($165). The pastor had previously been arrested in March last year for spreading false information about Covid after a video of him praying and rebuking the virus in the Name of Jesus went viral.
In a statement, ICC Regional Manager for South Asia William Stark, said: “Since the new constitution was adopted in 2015, Nepalese Christians have been concerned that Article 26 and its enacting laws would be used to target their community. Today, Nepalese Christians again have seen their fears realized. Nepal’s sweeping anti-conversion law must be repealed if religious freedom is truly a right to be enjoyed by the country’s citizens.”