Persecution Increases

Some 150 to 250 Christians face charges for violating laws against conversion and proselytization in the Hindu state of Nepal. According to several recently released reports, persecution of Nepal’s Christians increased sharply during the past year. For example, the Puebla Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based human-rights group, notes that about 180 cases of prosecution were reported in 1989, compared with only one or two in 1970.

Though most of the Christians charged are free on bail, at least 10 are serving jail sentences and at least 50 are in police custody, according to church leaders within the country.

The Puebla report indicated that while Catholics have also been affected, Protestant evangelicals have borne the brunt of the government persecution because of their persistent efforts to evangelize.

Christianity Legalized

The Cambodian government has legalized Christianity, allowing Christians in the capital city of Phnom Penh the right to worship openly for the first time since 1975. All religion was banned in the country during the rule of the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979. The succeeding Vietnamese government recognized Buddhism (the religion of 90 percent of the population) and Islam, but continued to repress Christianity. In recent years, however, restrictions on Christians have eased.

Protestant church leaders last year submitted a petition to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, asking permission to reopen churches in Phnom Penh. According to Joe Kong, president of the Cambodian Evangelical Church of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, more than 400 believers attend nine churches in the city. Noting that the government has not yet recognized about 30 house churches in the countryside, ...

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