Pastor in Nepal Sentenced to Jail for Saying Prayer can Heal COVID-19

       (Acharya. Image credit: The Christian Post)

A pastor in Nepal, Keshab Raj Acharya, has been sentenced to two years in prison by the District Court in Dolpa for saying that COVID-19 can be healed by prayers. In a statement by International Christian Concern – a U.S.-based persecution watchdog, Acharya was also fined $165 (20,000 Rupees) for his statement which he made on social media.

On March 23, 2020, Acharya was initially arrested from his home in Pokhara, Gandaki Pradesh Province, on the count of spreading false information about COVID-19. He was released after some days and was rearrested on charges of “proselytizing and outraging religious feelings.” 

The pastor spent three months in prison before he was regained his freedom on July 3, 2020. Meanwhile, he had to pay for his bail of about $2,500.

In a video posted on the internet, Pastor Acharya was seen praying in front of his congregation, saying, “Hey, corona — you go and die. May all your deeds be destroyed by the power of the Lord Jesus. I rebuke you, corona, in the name of Lord Jesus Christ. By the power or the ruler of this Creation, I rebuke you. … By the power in the name of Lord Jesus Christ, corona, go away and die.”

While commenting on the pastor’s arrest, ICC’s regional manager for South Asia, William Stark said, “For more than a year, authorities in the Dolpa District have seemed bent on convicting Pastor Acharya of something and punishing him for simply being a Christian pastor. Since the new constitution was adopted in 2015, Nepalese Christians have been concerned that Article 26 and its enacting laws would be used to target their community.”

Stark continued, ‘’Nepal’s sweeping anti-conversion law must be repealed if religious freedom is truly a right to be enjoyed by the country’s citizens.”

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