South Asia :11th Dec,2014
We would like to expose the Christian persecution in Buddhist countries. Many people in West believe that Buddhists are the most peaceful and loving people in the world. Hundreds and thousands of Westerners used to visit the Buddhist temples for the peace of mind and purity of their souls through meditation.
If, Buddhism is such a peaceful religion then why for centuries do they persecute Christians in their countries.
Few days ago I was discussing with a friend about our efforts to save Christians from the Islamic world. My friend drew my attention to a tiny little Buddhist country called “Bhutan.” He asked me did if I’d ever looked in to the lives of Bhutanese Christians? Did you know what is happening with them? I had No answer.
This one-minute conversation forced me to look into the lives of Christians living in Buddhist countries. Today I would like to share some of the challenge’s faced by our brothers in these countries.
Bhutan is the tiny little country situated in the Eastern end of Himalayas in South Asia. Bhutan is also called the “Land Of The Thunder Dragon.” It is the only Buddhist Kingdom in the world, where Tantra Buddhism is the official religion. 84% Buddhist 11.8 % Hindus and less than 1% are Christians. Buddhism is supported by the government both politically and economically, even government gave subsidies to Buddhist monasteries, shrines, monks. Buddhist religious Institutions and persons are the most influential figures in society.
According to the constitution of Bhutan Article 3 of its constitution stated “1- Buddhism is the spiritual heritage of Bhutan, which promotes the principles and values of peace, non-violence, compassion and tolerance. 2- The Druk Gyalpo is the protector of all religions in Bhutan. 3- It shall be the responsibility of religious institutions and personalities to promote the spiritual heritage of the country while also ensuring that religion remains separate from politics in Bhutan. Religious institutions and personalities shall remain above politics.
The last line of the sub-section 3 is very interesting that Religious institutions and personalities remain above politics. This part of constitution empowers the Monks and religious persons to persecute and impose their religious rituals upon Christians and other religious minorities in Bhutan like Muslims impose sharia in the Islamic World.
You all might know that Apostasy is punishable with the death penalty in Islamic law, its same in Bhutan, however only a few people know that conversion to Christianity is also a crime in Bhutan, which normally ends up with the expulsion and loss of Citizenship for the converted. Imagine if you are Bhutanese and you accepted Christ and became a Christian, and right after that you got notification from the District Council that your citizenship has been revoked and you are no more a Bhutanese citizen. It’s as bad as killing a man, you lose your job, your social contacts as well as your property including your home, even if you are the only member of your family who accepted Christ, you will also lose your family .
Most of world thinks that Bhutan is the happiest country in the world; some say it’s the Switzerland of Asia and others state that Bhutan is a magical valley. It is very hard to find a church in this magical land, because it’s illegal to build a church, publically you cannot perform your religious ceremonies just like Christians are discriminated in Saudi Arabia.
Like Saudi Arabia there are no churches in Bhutan, they have ever been granted legal status. Christian leaders cannot register a church. Even some of the Christian leaders submitted registration documents to the Prime Minister of Bhutan but the home Ministry refused to allow Christians to build a Church. Christians are only allowed to meet and hold prayers in their homes.
Nepal, Sri-lanka , Burma (Myanmar) and Bhutan are mostly ignored places from Christian persecution, where only few western Organizations are working and very few stories of persecution get media attention. We need to focus more on the lives of vulnerable persecuted Christian communities in these countries.
We would like to share a story of a Bhutanese Pastor Tandin Wangyal who was arrested because of showing the Christian video and would request you to read his story. And lift your hands in prayers for these wonderful people.