Loopholes allow for continual persecution in Laos

April 29, 2009

The Laos constitution professes freedom of religion in its Constitution: "Lao citizens, irrespective of their sex, social status, education, faith, and ethnic groups are all equal before the law" according to Article 22.

Article 9, however, is loosely written to say, "The state respects and protects all lawful activities of the Buddhists and of other religious followers . . . to participate in the activities which are beneficial to the country and people."

So, practicing Christianity in any of its manifestations can be construed as not being beneficial to the country. Charges are made against Christians for "violating the religious traditions of their ancestors." Worship services, religious gatherings, Christian burial services, marriage ceremonies, prayer meetings, evensong and praise all qualify as violations.

Modest churches like this one are under threat.

Throughout Laos, there are stories of meetings, accusations, bullying, and indictments. Concessions are sometimes made on behalf of the Christians, but they are generally short-lived. In some cases, martyrdom has been the outcome for believers standing up to the continual persecution. Christian Aid is grateful for the faithful supporters who have made commitments to these believers who are constantly re-establishing their lives. Pray they stand firm in their faith as they evangelize Laos under such precarious circumstances.