Christians See Better Times

High in the mountains in a valley outside Katmandu, Nepal, the National Church Fellowship is helping a community of 13,000 Tamange who are new believers in Christ. They struggle to exist in a situation where less than 2 percent of the population is literate.

Yet these Nepalese Christians are experiencing greater religious liberty than before, thanks to a new civil code in Nepal that removes some of the legal basis for the oppression of Christian activity that has occurred in the past.

The restriction against an individual voluntarily changing religions was repealed, along with the accompanying one-year jail penalty and requirement that any Hindus who changed religion must “return to their own Hindu religion.”

Also, while the old law specifically forbade the spreading of Christianity or Islam “in a manner to undermine Hindu religion,” the new law states that “No person shall propagate any religion in a manner likely to undermine another religion.”

Even so, the signs of greater religious freedom are tempered by a carryover of the law that states, “No person shall … convert anyone into another religion.” The penalty for attempting a conversion is up to three years in prison, and six years for a successful conversion. Foreigners are deported from Nepal after completing the sentence.

Women Priests Approved

The General Synod of the Anglican Church in Australia will eventually allow the ordination of women priests, following a July vote repealing a church law that allowed only men to serve. However, a vote on a proposal to begin immediately ordaining women fell short by 5 percent of the necessary 75 percent approval.

The church’s 24 dioceses will review the legislation. If all agree, it will become ...

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