Authorities in the Asian nation of Laos are cracking down on worshiping Christians. Several Christians were arrested on the days before and after Christmas in separate incidents that took place in the country’s southern Savannakhet province. Most recently, as many as seven Christians were reportedly arrested while worshipping at a church service in the Nakanong Village. According to the Human Rights Watcher for Lao Religious Freedom, a group of nine police officers raided the Nakanong Village service and initially arrested three church leaders. The church leaders were taken to the Phin district police headquarters.
The police later returned to the village about two hours later and arrested four more Christians, who were also taken to the Phin police headquarters. The arrested Christians were reportedly detained for illegally gathering for worship without the government’s permission.
Around 10 p.m., police officers again returned to the village church and destroyed the stage and church’s sound system. The police cut off power to the church and confiscated three cell phones. Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports that the seven Christians arrested were freed and allowed to go home a few days later.
Earlier RFA reported that five other Christians were arrested by authorities in Non Soung village. The arrests were made after a group of Christians in one village invited a pastor from a neighbouring village to organize a Christmas celebration. The Christians were arrested for breaching rules designed specifically to restrict Christianity in the Phin district. The source said “A couple of days later, district security guards arrested five Christians, four from Non Soung village and the pastor who had come from the other village nearby.” The source said that regulations allow Christians to only hold and participate in Christmas celebrations in their own village.
A district official refused to comment on the case but told RFA that Christian celebrations in the district are subject to various government controls. The official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said “They are not allowed to teach from the Bible or to spread their religion to others because Christianity is the religion of the Europeans and Americans.” Hostility toward Christianity is not just confined to a few provinces. The nation ranks as the 20th worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s 2018 World Watch List. Christians comprise about 3 percent of the population in Laos.
Much of the persecution against Christians in Laos “originates from communist authorities.” “The Communist Party sees religion as a hostile element,” an Open Doors fact sheet explains.“ It is considered a Western influence and especially dangerous. The government is making efforts to increase the monitoring of illegal house churches, resulting in the arrest and detention of Christian believers.” The detention of the Christians come despite attempts at Western-style reforms being made throughout the last several years. Earlier 4 other Lao Christians were arrested and held for about a week for holding worship services without the permission of authorities.
Source: Christian PostPrint This Post