Accepted Paper:

Internal struggle before inclusion: mushrooming of umbrella organizations in Nepalese Protestantism and their struggle over the unification initiative  


Mitsuru Niwa (Hitotsubashi University)

Paper short abstract:

In this presentation, I shall report the mushrooming of multiple Protestant Umbrella Organizations, in Nepalese Protestantism, that were established to achieve legal inclusion, and will examine their struggle over the unification initiative and also the cynical response of ordinary believers.

Paper long abstract:

Protestantism was first practiced in Nepal a few years after the country became opened to foreigners in 1951. During this time, however, Christians were the object of both private and public persecution, leading to a strong sense of unity among Protestants and a gradual increase in Protestantism over the next 40 years.

It was the success of the democratization movement in 1990 that lessened public persecution and triggered the expansion of Protestantism. This expansion, however, has brought inner confusion to the Protestant Community. As Protestant population grew rapidly and various denominations and organizations from foreign countries started to provide aid to local churches, inner friction and antagonism appeared among Protestants, resulting in continuous schism or church splitting and loss of unity. In such a situation, to achieve ektā, or unity, again, and to raise one voice for social and political rights of the oppressed Protestants, some of the leaders have attempted to form umbrella organizations under which all Protestants could reunite. With multiple self-appointed 'umbrella' organizations being established and all struggling to control this initiative, the reunification of Protestants has ironically been impeded and a kind of cynical narrative concerning the activities of these organizations has spread among Protestants.

In this presentation, I shall report and analyze some of the struggles between several umbrella organizations regarding legal inclusion of Protestants into the new constitution, and also the cynical narratives and involvements of ordinary believers.

Panel P037
Comparative ethnography of 'inclusion' in Nepal: discourses, activities, and life-worlds