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While Nepal demands Hindu Rashtra, Republican Congressman alleges Biden admin granted $500,000 to promote atheism in the erstwhile Hindu monarchy, US govt denies

Republican Congressman Brian Mast asked, “Would it be appropriate for the state (US) department to authorise half a million dollar grant from American taxpayers money to promote atheism.”

The Biden Administration spent half a million US dollars to promote atheism in Nepal, Republican Congressman Brian Mast claimed while confronting a US government official over the issue. Notably, Mast is the Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Accountability. 

On 21st March, the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources in the Biden Administration, Richard R. Verma testified before the subcommittee as it assessed the State Department’s compliance with the Oversight. 

During Verma’s testimony, Republican politician Mast confronted him stating that the department’s ‘grant request’ document mentions that it gave money to “promote atheism in Nepal”. 

What transpired during the testimony

In the video of Verma’s testimony shared by the Republican Congressman, Mast can be heard asking him, “Would it be appropriate for the state (US) department to authorise half a million dollar grant from American taxpayers money to promote atheism.” 

To which, the official of the Biden administration, Verma replied, “It would not be appropriate to have a grant to promote any religion or non-religion coming from the United States.” 

After Verma admitted that it wouldn’t be appropriate for the US to promote any religion including non-religion (atheism), Mast inquired about the alleged $500,000 grant to promote atheism in Nepal. 

He asked Verma, “Half a million dollar grant to Nepal regarding the expansion of atheism, do you believe that is an appropriate use of the money.” 

However, the Biden administration official denied extending any such grant to Nepal and argued that the grant was being misconstrued.  

Verma said, “That’s not what the grant is for and that’s not what the work would be for and frankly we would never authorise such a grant to any organisation to promote any kind of religion.” 

Further in the video, Mast asked him whether Verma was saying on record that no grant had been allocated for atheism in Nepal or divided up in other areas. 

Dismissing the allegations of promoting atheism in Nepal and elsewhere, Verma claimed, “I have seen no evidence of any grant to promote Atheism in Nepal.”

Referring to the purported “request for grant” document, Mast pointed out, “It (the official document) says promoting and defending religious freedom inclusive of atheist, humanist, non-practicing and non-affiliated individuals.” 

Reading further from the document, the Republican Politician added, “This is the expected program outcomes – increased capacity among members of the Atheist and heterodox individuals to form, join networks or organisations, creating or strengthening networks of advocates for the diverse communities of atheists.” 

During Verma’s testimony, Mast emphasised that the term atheism and different phrasing for the “promotion of atheism in Nepal” find repeated mention in the official document in different places. 

He said, “strengthening the capacity of organisations representing diverse communities of atheists..in different places.” 

Accusing Verma of disrespecting the committee by his repeated denials, Mast added, “You adamantly deny that there is anything relating to a grant for Atheism in Nepal” stressing that the front page of the grant request points otherwise.  

Mast remarked, “This revelation is deeply troubling. Not only is it an inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars, but the lack of transparency and honesty from the administration further erodes trust in our government.”

The allegations could result in a diplomatic row between the US and Nepal

Strikingly, according to the Republican politician, the Biden administration granted large sums of money to promote atheism in Nepal by hiding the grant in the name of promoting the ‘Fundamental Rights of Freedom of Religion”.

The purported US grant to promote atheism in Nepal could lead to a diplomatic row between the two nations if the allegations are found to be true. It could be tantamount to “external interference” in Nepal’s internal affairs and changing its religious demography. 

Further, the startling allegations come at a time when massive protests advocating for making Nepal a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ have become frequent in Nepal. 

Hinduism is the most followed religion in the Himalayan nation, which stands at 81 percent of the total population, as per the census in 2021. Till 2006, Nepal was the only Hindu state in the world. The same year, the country became a secular state. 

Meanwhile, the United States, its allies, and a few non-state actors like billionaire George Soros in the past have been accused of interfering with the nation’s political setup, changing the religious demography of the region and regime change operations in the pretext of championing virtuous traits like promoting democracy, religious tolerance and freedom of speech among others. 

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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