Bangladesh (MNN) — Activists in Bangladesh filed for a hearing to clarify the religious freedoms stated in the constitution. The hearing was supposed to be held earlier this week, but was dismissed. The High Court has not released any information of explanation.
“The hearing was to clarify the constitution of Bangladesh,” explains Bruce Allen of Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI). “In 1971, the constitution declared all religions were equal and it was a secular society; yet, later on in 1988, the constitution was amended to make Islam the state religion.”
In this case, two contradicting statements are being upheld in the constitution.
The military ruler Hussain Mohammad Ershad had a hand in the amendment. Bangladesh citizens filed for a summons with the High Court to argue for a repeal in the 1980s but were rejected. They continued speaking out since then, and the High Court finally agreed to a hearing set for March 28 but ended up dropping the case that day.
“They’re not going to even make a judgment on it…. The principle of secularism is still part of their constitution, part of their government, but it also is reaffirming Islam [as] the state religion.”
No answer as to why the High Court dropped the 28-year-old case has been given, but chaos had broken out in the nation before they had.
“There have been many radical factions that have held riots–even some killings of Christians as a threat against the government, saying, ‘If you proceed with those hearings, you will see more of these riots and more of these killings.’”
The country’s population is made up of about 90% of Muslims and 9.5% of Hindus. Any minority religions, including Christianity, take up less than 1% of the population, according to Media Bangladesh.net.
FMI supports national pastors and church planters throughout Bangladesh. Allen says though the constitution remains foggy, their mission work will continue.
“Ministry does continue because actually nothing is changing in regards to the legal policy of the nation. We’ve been able to do ministry there in the past; we will continue to do ministry even if the government ended up more heavily-endorsing Islam as the state religion or instituting Sharia law…. God’s heart is for all the peoples of all the world, and His Spirit knows no geopolitical boundaries.”
One FMI-supported missionary showed the JESUS film on Easter Day, and received great feedback. Most of the viewers were non-Christians and wanted to know more about the life of Jesus. As a result, several people came to Christ.
Will you pray for those who became new believers to have an understanding and passion for Christ? Also, please pray for safety for believers in Bangladesh.
FMI wants to continue following up with new believers and give them Christian supplies. Will you help them achieve their goal?