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Christians in Rangoon Avoid Churches

ICC Note:

A closer look at the response of Christians in Burma to the government’s recent ban on worship in apartments in Rangoon.

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1/20/09 Burma (Mizzima) Christians in Rangoon said they are being forced to avoid their churches and conduct services in make-shift places of worship at the homes of their members in rotation after authorities earlier this month made them sign pledges not to worship in their apartment churches.
A youth pastor of a local church in Rangoon’s downtown Township of Pabedan said their church members are fasting and praying for the government and blessing the authorities to change their minds and to allow them back to conduct normal church services.
“We are praying to God that the authorities be blessed and have a change of mind to allow us again to worship normally,” the youth pastor told Mizzima, in a voice that shook.

But with authorities having stopped issuing permission for constructing or even buying plots of land for churches since the 1990s, church pastors said they are forced to rent apartment buildings and use them for places of worship.
“Even these apartments cannot be rented or bought in the name of the church. So we have to use private names to buy or rent them,” a Church pastor said.

The London-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a Christian non-governmental organization working on religious freedom and human rights in Burma, in its report in 2007 said they have received a document that reveals the Burmese junta’s policy to wipe out the Christian population in Burma.
In its report, Carrying the Cross: The military regime’s campaign of restriction, discrimination and persecution against Christians in Burma, the CSW said it received a 17 point document titled “Programme to Destroy the Christian religion in Burma”.
The first point of the document, allegedly from an organisation affiliated to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, states – “There shall be no home where the Christian religion is practiced.”

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