ICC Note: We often see and read about the persecution of Christians caused by Islamic theocracy and nationalism; however, minorities suffer at the hands of different religious majorities elsewhere as well. In Myanmar, Rohingya Muslims have endured untold atrocities at the hands of the government and military, but Christians have likewise been targets of oppression by the state and by nationalist groups like Ma Ba Tha. It is great news that positive facts have become available again regarding Burmese Christians after over 3 decades without a census, but severe challenges remain for Christians, especially those who are still internally displaced. May we as a church continue to offer up prayers and support to the Christian community in Myanmar with hopes that they will play a much larger role in the country now that the era of its former military government has ceased.
8/4/2016 Myanmar (WorldWatchMonitor) – Myanmar’s Christian population has increased dramatically, according to the latest figures in a supplement to the 2014 Population and Housing Census, conducted by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).
Christians now make up 6.2 per cent of the population – more than three million people – compared to 4.9 per cent the last time a full census was conducted in 1983. The religious data is the latest in a staggered release of volumes published over the last two years.
Some commentators say it was delayed to avoid a backlash from nationalists anticipating a sharp rise in non-Buddhist religions, which they feel threaten Myanmar’s Buddhist identity. The UNFPA, however, said in 2015 that it would release information on ethnicity and religion in 2016 because it required “more time for analysis and consultation”.
Other religions show fall in numbers
Christianity remains the second most popular religion. Buddhism had a fall of one per cent since the 1983 census, but with almost 88 per cent of the population identifying as Buddhists, it remains the dominant religion. Hinduism showed small gains, while animism and Islam showed a decline, although the census didn’t count the estimated one million Rohingya Muslims, considered as non-citizens. If they had been included, it would have brought the Muslim population to four per cent, instead of two per cent.