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Nepal's First-Ever Census Reveals Good News for Christians

Number of Catholics and Protestants in Himalayan nation has tripled since 2007.

Christians now comprise 1.4 percent of Nepal's population of 26 million, according to the Himalayan nation's first-ever census.

The results show that more than 80 percent of Nepali citizens identify as Hindu. Nepali Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, who unveiled the census results, stated that "minority religions will enjoy equal status."

However, the reported 1 percent growth rate may not be entirely accurate, Asia News reports.

"We believe our population is more than the report claims," Protestant leader CB Gahatraj told Asia News. "The problem is that during the census period, many newly converted Christians were afraid to tell their religion, and so were registered as Hindu."

Nepal became a secular state in 2007, at which time Catholics and Protestants accounted for just 0.4 percent of the population. Growth throughout the last five years has occurred in spite of anti-conversion laws, although an agreement signed in May promised to protect the rights of the Christian community.

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