Nepali Christians marked as Hindus in Census“Manipulation”

January 10, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Church records state that there are more than 2.5m Christians in NepalNepal,  January 08, 2013:  Christian leaders in Nepal have complained that the size of the country’s Christian population has been manipulated in the latest census, which erroneously marks over two million Christians as Hindus.

Church records state that there are more than 2.5m Christians in Nepal

The Federation of National Christians of Nepal said that it could prove from church records that there were more than 2.5 million Christians in the country, but the final report of the 2011 census, which was published towards the end of last year, recorded just 375,699 or 1.4% of the population.

The preliminary results of the census, however, which were declared in late September 2011, had put the number of Christians at 2 million.

Christian leaders have complained that the growing minority’s numerical strength has been grossly underestimated at a time of significant political transition in Nepal. The 2011 census is the first since the country became a democracy. It is transitioning from a Hindu monarchy to a secular republic, a process that is being resisted by the dominant Hindu caste groups.

Dr K.B. Rokaya, general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Nepal, said that he suspects “double manipulation”. He said that the enumerators did not visit every house, and when they did, they presumed that anyone with a Hindu name was a Hindu.

Dr Rokaya said:

When enumerators came to my house, they asked questions about family members but not about our religion. My wife noticed they had already marked us as Hindus.

The percentage of Hindus in the 2011 census was given as 81%, virtually unchanged from the 2001 figure, when religious minorities did not have equal rights and most people preferred to be identified as Hindus.

An accurate percentage of Christians and other non-Hindus in Nepal is very important as the country’s first elected representatives implement reforms. The country’s long-awaited constitution has been in a state of deadlock for a number of years. A draft code proposes many progressive changes but few in the area of religious freedom; it would retain the ban on activities aimed at religious conversion.

Christians are still waiting for the fulfilment of other promised rights; they were told by the government that churches would be given legal recognition and that they would be provided with land for graveyards.

– barnabas team

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