Freed: Nepal pastor, jailed for eating beef

Freed: Nepal pastor, jailed for eating beef

Reverend Chhedar Lhomi Bhote, 37, who was sentenced in 2012 to 12 years in prison for killing a cow, has been released.

According to this report, Bhote  – inset above in a photo of a “holy cow” procession in Kathmandu – was arrested after a Hindu mob attacked and burned down his home in north eastern Nepal, close to the border with Tibet, where he and his wife were ministering to Tibetans . The mob accused him of eating beef, which is taboo in Nepal but not illegal for non-Hindus, and of killing a cow. A court overturned his sentence in July.

Intentionally slaughtering a cow, sacred to Nepal’s majority Hindus, is punishable by up to 12 years in prison though the law is rarely enforced.

Hindu society is very sensitive as to how other faiths regard their sacred animal and some Hindu groups have recently said that Christians have been encouraging new converts to show disrespect to Hindu symbols, such as the cow; this  is causing anger and accusations of forced conversion in Nepali society.

Figures show that Christianity is one of the fastest growing faiths in a country where more than 75 per cent of the population are Hindu.

A Hindu protest group called Vedic Sanatan Hindu Rastha Nepal recently brought cow slaughter to prominence by carrying out a month-long hunger strike.

It was led by Hindu “holy man” Yuva Sant Shri Shrinevasacharya who said:

Hindus, Hindu gurus, and other organisations should unite to fight against the growing number of crimes against our identity and culture. We will no longer sit aside and watch as cows are slaughtered in this sacred land of our ancestors.

Hindu groups are linking cow slaughter to faith conversion – both are issues that many Hindus find unacceptable in the Hindu-majority country.
According to Operation World, Nepal’s Christian population is 2.85 per cent, yet it is the rapid growth of Christianity – when contrasted with the declining numbers of Hindus – that is causing a major concern for Hindu leaders.

Between the two most recent censuses the Christian population has more than doubled. In 2001 it was 180,000  but by the 2011 census 375,699 identified as Christian.

Missionaries and Christian NGOs are repeatedly accused of promising money and education to lure poor non-Christians into the faith.

Kamal Thapa, the leader of the Hindu nationalist Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal (RPP-Nepal), has been vocal about the issue. He recently said that:

US dollars are being poured into the country to lure an innocent Hindu population to convert to Christianity.

According to Nepali law, while an individual has the right to change their religion and practice the religion they wish, there is a prohibition against attempting to convert people. However the line is blurred.

Yuva Sant Shri Shrinevasacharya insists that Christians, funded by aid agencies, are:

Helping to destroy the legacy of Hinduism in Nepal.

Accusations of Christian proselytism by have intensified at a time when Nepali Hindus are seeing their country become more secular, which they fear will “dilute” the Hindu population. They are also growing more confident in asserting their authority over Christianity because of the success of Hindu nationalism in neighbouring India, which saw a Hindu led government elected at the elections in May 2014.

Since that election, Nepal’s prime minister, Sushil Koirala has been pressured to heed the country’s Hindu cultural integrity by Narendra Modi, India’s newly elected Prime Minister who recent visited.

Shri Shrinevasacharya issued a veiled threat:

So far our protest has been peaceful, but if cow killing and conversion continues we will have to use other means.

Christian leaders, on the other hand, claim that the state has not fully accepted its secular identity and continues to favor Hinduism. They also recount that Christians continue to face persecution in society. In December 2013 a church building and the homes of four Christian converts were set on fire. In April this year Christians and other religious minorities were being asked to “reconsider their faith” ahead of a new scheme requiring all Nepali citizens to register for an identity card.

8 responses to “Freed: Nepal pastor, jailed for eating beef”

  1. Norman Paterson says:

    When faiths collide like this, their complete irrationality shines brightest.

  2. Broga says:

    Makes a change from the USA where gay lifestyle angers God and causes all the problems.

  3. jay says:

    It’s all culture specific.

    For example: In the US, and probably quite a few other places, you can be jailed for intentionally killing a dog (even if you come from a culture that includes dog meat).

  4. gedediah says:

    US Christians paying Hindus to convert. I wonder what they think they’re getting for their money? Maybe the Hindus should hold out for a better offer.

  5. Peter K. says:

    For “US Christians” read “US Pentecostalists”, whose ignorance of other cultures is absolute and whose knowledge of Christianity is about on a par with most Americans’ knowledge of Chinese literature.

  6. Matt Westwood says:

    Bear in mind that it is only through the “sacredness” of the cow that the Indian culture has managed to survive as long as it has.

    Subsistence farmers often have great difficulty scratching out a living, and the dung and milk supplied by the Family Cow is often the difference between survival and non-survival. If the religious ukase against using the cow for meat were not in place, many peasants would be tempted to make the decision to kill their cow for food when times get tough, and thence destroy their very key to survival.

    Well, that’s what I read somewhere once. Can’t remember where now.

  7. L.Long says:

    At times it is near impossible to write something to make religion sound really REALLY stupid beyond what the religious do themselves and think they are so moral and holey.

  8. Paul Cook says:

    Why is everyone so surprised, as hindus have a god monkey an elephant god and a goddess with tons of arms. It’s a cow so it is clearly ‘nearly’ a god too.