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Laos: Christians detained for ‘violating traditional customs’ in planning Christian funeral

Persecution of Christians in Laos: the constitution of Laos ostensibly protects the freedom of religion. Nonetheless, Christians in Laos are often harassed by local officials, as the official in this story says: “But [the Christians] wanted to do things that violate our traditional customs. They were preparing things that we felt were strange and wrong and do not understand, and so we acted in order to prevent them from happening.”

Here at ChristianPersecution.com we have also covered harassment by officials in Pakistan, China, India, and elsewhere. The hostility of Laotian authorities places the Christians of Laos, and other countries where Christianity is considered alien, in a particularly precarious position, as the ones who should be protecting them are arrayed against them. Please pray for all Christians in such a situation, that the Lord Jesus Christ would turn and transform the hearts of these anti-Christian authorities.

For more ChristianPersecution.com coverage of the persecution of Christians in Laos, see here.

“Lao Christians detained for ‘violating traditional customs’ in planning Christian funeral,” Barnabas Fund, November 3, 2020:

Four Lao Christians remain in jail four months after they were arrested for planning a Christian funeral, which was deemed by local authorities to violate traditional customs.

The four were arrested on 3 July after travelling to Phousath village, Khammouane province, for the funeral of the son of a local Christian family. “They were detained because they came here to perform ceremonies that don’t conform with Lao culture, which creates unrest and divides community solidarity,” said a local official.

He said non-Christian villagers wanted to perform a funeral ceremony “according to our culture handed down to us by our ancestors”, which, under local tradition, would include inviting Buddhist monks to pray at the family home.

“But [the Christians] wanted to do things that violate our traditional customs,” added the official. “They were preparing things that we felt were strange and wrong and do not understand, and so we acted in order to prevent them from happening.”

The detained Christians are the breadwinners of their families and their wives and children now face hardships, said a source close to the case. “More than that, these families are having trouble seeking justice for their husbands, asking for their release and for respect for their rights and freedoms enshrined in the constitution and laws of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic,” he said.

The Law on the Evangelical Church, approved and signed into law in December 2019, allows Lao Christians the right to conduct services and preach throughout the country and to maintain contacts with believers in other countries. Lao churches must fund their own operations and must obey other Lao laws, rules, and regulations.

There are approximately 150,000 Christians in Laos, who are targeted both at a local level and by the government. Locally, they are subjected to harassment and violence, while the communist government imposes tight restrictions on religious activity….

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