Calvin College Chimes

Letter to the editor: On “Nepal criminalizes non-Hindu evangelism”

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I am writing this email in reaction to your article in Chimes today. I am from Nepal, born and raised, so every single letter you have written in the article matters to me as I am one of only three students from Nepal at Calvin (two years ago I was the only one).

First off, thank you for pointing out such an important issue. Everyone should be free to choose whatever religion they want to follow, and the step Nepal took by enforcing a complete ban on non-Hindu missionary work is wrong. I am glad Nepal is not a Hindu country anymore (I don’t think it should ever switch back to being one) as it strips the platform for non-Hindus to progress in the country. Hinduism and Buddhism (two dominant “religions”) are more like a way of life than a religion which enables Hindus, Buddhists and people from other religions to stay rather peacefully compared to other countries with a single dominant religion. However, I cannot deny the fact that there is some form of tension between people following different worldviews in Nepal, which has essentially caused this ban.

That being said, I wanted you to know a couple things that I can tell you from personal experience. The missionary work done by Christians in Nepal is just pathetic. It’s pathetic because a majority of the missionaries that spread the gospel in rural Nepal do it merely for “conversion,” and not for the original purpose: to spread knowledge of the life of Jesus Christ and how is he considered a savior. These missionaries mainly target the most illiterate and ignorant individuals that reside where the topography makes it very hard for the development of infrastructure. They lure these uneducated people to Christianity by saying that Christ is going to heal any sorts of diseases people suffer. They bribe these innocent people by feeding them financially—and all just for the sake of conversion. These missionaries pay hospital bills for people who cannot afford the cost and give complete credit to the power of Christianity, not medicine. Some of them even frighten these innocent people by saying that failure to believe in Christ will make things even worse. This is just wrong.

Your article irritates me because it portrays only one side of the story: the perspective of a Christian viewing from a distance. One of the three Nepalese at Calvin is a Muslim, and I forwarded this article to him, and the other Nepali as well, and all of us feel the same.

The statement: “Becoming a Hindu is a basic condition for being a good Indian citizen or Nepali citizen” is just not true. It’s kind of like saying you need to eat meat to be able to eat at Commons. I do acknowledge the caste system that still persists in Nepal, and I think that it should NOT be enforced under any circumstances. Classifying people based on some stupid reasons is a violation of human rights.

However, as sad as it sounds, the “lower caste” people that live in rural places are usually the ones that have been deprived of basic necessities such as education and good healthcare, and they are more likely to be ignorant. These are the people missionaries have been targeting.

To me, this looks like a fight where you pick on the weakest because you know that you are going to win. These missionaries are not just spreading lies but are also portraying a bad picture of Christianity in a Hindu dominant country, further increasing the religious tension. The government’s reaction to this situation is unconstitutional. They shouldn’t have completely banned the missionary work Christians and Muslims do, but instead should have punished the missionaries who lure innocent people into superstition.

Therefore, I urge you to double-check your sources and analyze any critical situation from both sides before writing on such a profound platform like Chimes. The article in question definitely shows an incomplete story, and readers at Calvin don’t deserve that. I wish I could have addressed this before the article got published, but, oh well.

 

Kashyap Sigdel

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