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Laos Detains Listener To Evangelical Radio Station For Preaching Gospel

Tuesday, 04 July 2006

By BosNewsLife News Center

VIENTIANE, LAOS (BosNewsLife)– A Laotian listener to an evangelical radio station was believed to be in prison Tuesday, July 4, for spreading Christianity among fellow villagers after becoming a ‘born-again’ Christian in May this year, investigators said.

22-year-old KaTamong “came to faith in Christ May 1” in the Louangphrabang area of Laos and “immediately set out to share his faith with the people in is home village of Omdong,” said religious rights group Voice of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC) in a message to BosNewsLife.

Using a cassette tape with recordings from the Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC) he began “sharing his newfound faith with his family and fellow villagers and many expressed interest in becoming Christians,” VOMC claimed. “However, according to VOMC sources, the village head reported him to the district police and he was arrested on May 16,” the group added.

His Bible and cassette player were confiscated and according to latest reports KaTomong remains in the regional Nong Ngiao prison, VOMC said. There was no immediate reaction from Laotian officials. FEBC says it broadcasts programs in 150 languages, to a potential listening audience of over 2.5 billion people. “FEBC’s broadcasts are heard in many countries with limited access to Christian ministry or tremendous political and cultural opposition to the Gospel,” the organization said.


Laos is among the countries where especially active Christians in rural areas face opposition amid fears within the Communist government to lose control over the spreading churches there, several human rights groups say. Christian villagers have been tortured, detained and in some cases killed, BosNewsLife established during an investigation in Laos last year.

Although Laos is a Communist-run country, it has been under pressure to become a more open society since 1997, when it joined the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a political and economic organization of countries located in Southeast Asia .

There are over 35,000 Evangelical Christians in Laos today; 20,000 Khmu, 8,000 Lao, 4,000 Hmong and 3,000 other tribes, according to estimates by human rights groups Open Doors. A small number of Lao – mostly those of the remaining French-educated elite – are Christians.

About 60 percent of the over six million people of Laos are Theravada Buddhists, and it was long seen as the official national religion. “However, the Department of Religious Affairs ensures that the teaching of Buddhism is in accordance with Marxist principles. All monks now have to undergo political indoctrination as part of their monastic training,” Open Doors added. The Communist Pathet Lao took control of the government in 1975, ending a six-century-old monarchy. (With BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos and Agnes R. Bos and other reports from Laos ).