09/30/2020 Laos (International Christian Concern) – Even with a law updated to protect religious activities and uphold religious freedom in 2019, Christians in the communist Laos continue to face harassment and threats from the authorities, especially in rural areas.
According to UCA News, officials of the Lao government are working with Christian groups to ensure that local officials in rural areas step up their efforts to protect Christians from discrimination and persecution.
Religious freedom for Lao Christians has been inconsistent since while there is a legislation that officially protects religious freedom, it is implemented with restrictions and Christians still face arrests in certain situations.
Now, church members are reportedly working together with the Interior Ministry and the Lao Front for National Construction to inform officials of the Law on the Evangelical Church, a new piece of legislation that was passed in December 2019 which allows Christians to conduct services and preach their faith unmolested.
While Christians in the metropolitan area and other major cities can freely practice their faith, it is not the case for rural Christians.
“[Christians] living in rural areas [are] considered ‘bad elements’ by other residents and by village authorities. Many Christians [have been] abused, re-educated, evicted from their villages, arrested, and jailed — mainly because the local authorities did not understand Christians,” a church member involved in the government-sponsored educational initiative told Radio Free Asia (RFA) last week.
“Now we hope that these meetings will improve understanding between the authorities and Christians,” he said, referring to seminars held this month in Bokeo, Bolikhamsai and Savannakhet provinces with similar meetings planned for other parts of the country.
Another local Christian told RFA, “Before, we had a lot of problems. But now things will start to improve because local authorities and the general public everywhere are being made aware of the law.”
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