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Laos accused of replicating China’s religious persecution

Despite the abuses, Church continues to grow in the country, says Christian activist
Christian villagers in Laos are seen in an undated photo. Christians in the communist country face routine harassment and persecution, activists say

Christian villagers in Laos are seen in an undated photo. Christians in the communist country face routine harassment and persecution, activists say. (Photo: RFA)

Published: July 11, 2023 10:40 AM GMT
Updated: July 11, 2023 03:01 PM GMT

Christians remain increasingly vulnerable to persecution for their faith in communist-ruled Laos as the authorities follow the model of China to keep religious groups “under the thumb,” says a report.

Christians are forced to travel hundreds of miles to purchase Bibles, hear sermons from pastors under official control, and face prison for evangelism, Mission News Network (MNN) reported.

Christians in the countryside face even stricter regulations and harsher persecution, the report said quoting a Christian activist.

In some parts of Laos, pastors have been imprisoned for their faith or even killed, according to Patrick Klein, the founder of Vision Beyond Borders, which promotes Bible studies globally and supports persecuted churches.

Referring to testimonies of Laotian Christians, Klein told Canada-based Voice of the Martyrs, which supports persecuted Christians, that China is pushing the Laos government “to mirror China’s own clampdown on Christian churches.”

As a result, many officials in Laos intimidate Christians and deny them from accessing services in hospitals, schools, and churches, Klein said, MNN reported.

Sometimes, Christians are also denied national identity cards, which reduces their opportunities to access more services.

Despite the persecution church in Laos continues to grow, he said.

“There are real believers inside the government-run churches. They’re trying to help get the gospel out. But they also have to be very wise in what they do, because if they go too far, and they are really evangelistic, they can get in trouble,” he explained.

Klein said one pastor said that persecution also offers opportunities for the Christian faithful.

The pastor said while he was well aware of spies within his congregation, “they need to hear the gospel too.” In fact, some of these spies have even found Christ while on assignment.

“The Gospel keeps going forth in the midst of persecution and opposition,” Klein said.

“Jesus did not say we’d be loved by the world, but that we would be hated by the world,” he added.

“They realize this is part of Christianity, that a lot of the early church suffered for their faith, and that a lot of believers around the world are suffering for their faith.”

But Jesus also said that he would support his followers and intercede on their behalf.

He urged Christians around the world to pray for the Christians in Laos.

“I think for them to know that believers around the world are praying for them. And standing with them, I think is a real, real blessing for them. Because they know that they’re not alone, they’ve not been forgotten.”

Laos is ranked 26th among the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian on the 2022 World Watch List by the global Christian rights group, Open Doors.

Open Doors estimates Christians account for about 203,000 or 2.8 percent out of the total population of 7.2 million.

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