Pastor Keshab Raj Acharya thrown in prison for saying prayer can cure coronavirus.
A Nepalese court sentenced pastor Keshab Raj Acharya to 2 years in prison for claiming that prayers can cure people of covid under the country’s anti-conversion law.
According to the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern, Pastor Acharya was sentenced to 2 years in prison and a fine of $165 (20,000 Rupees) by the District Court in Dolpa this week for claiming on social media that prayer could cure the coronavirus.
Pastor Acharya was arrested for the first time on March 23, 2020 at his residence in Pokhara, Gandaki Pradesh Province, on charges of spreading misinformation about Covid to his congregation. He claimed those who follow our Lord Jesus Christ are immune to the virus. He was freed after a fortnight but was arrested again a few days later on allegations of “outraging religious emotions” and “proselytizing.”
He was freed on July 3, 2020, after serving more than three months in prison and paying $2,500 in bond.
In a viral video shared on social media, Pastor Acharya prayed in front of his congregation shouting “Corona, you go ahead and die. May the Lord Jesus’ power demolish all of your evil actions. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I chastise you. I reprimand you with the authority of the Lord…. Corona, by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ, go and perish.”
The ICC’s regional manager for South Asia, William Stark, said: “Authorities in the Dolpa District have seemed hell-bent on convicting Pastor Acharya of something and punishing him solely for being a Christian pastor for more than a year.
Nepalese Christians have been anxious since the new constitution was enacted in 2015 that Article 26 and its implementing legislation will be utilized to attack their group.”
Stark added that if “religious freedom is genuinely a right to be enjoyed by the country’s residents, Nepal’s comprehensive anti-conversion law must be abolished.”
Acharya told Morning Star News after his release in July that it was a “very terrible” time for him. “I would cry out to the Lord in prayer, thinking of my children and my wife.” “I’d gaze up at Him, hoping that if it was in His will for me to go through this, He’d get me out of it,” he said at the time.
Pastor Acharya believes government authorities and police conspired against him. “They were setting out a detailed plan to ensure that I would be held in jail for a longer period of time,” he said.
At the time, the pastor’s lawyer, Senior Counsel Govinda Bandi warned Christian Solidarity Worldwide in the United Kingdom that Acharya’s repeated arrests were a “very disturbing indicator of the trajectory of religious freedom in this country.”
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