Photo of The Week

Laotian monks.

Protected Priestly Class

Buddhist monks and monks-in-training have found cover from a liberalizing of the Lao communist government´s policy toward Buddhism; in spite of marked conflicts between Buddhism and Marxism, the government has used the Buddhist Sangha, or community, as a means for achieving political goals rather than banning the religion. Thus the Christian minority in Laos, about 3.4 percent of the population, faces formidable opposition from the combination of government and religion. Buddhism in Laos, often mixed with tribal religions emphasizing animist beliefs and ancestral spirits, is practiced by 57 percent of the population, according to Operation World, while about 35 percent of the country practices indigenous religions. “At the local and village levels, Christians still find themselves to be targets,” Operation World notes, adding that strong spiritual opposition compounds family and societal pressures to continue traditional rituals.

Provide for the needs of persecuted believers in Laos
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