Crack-down on Christians increasing in Bhutan, so is church growth

By February 28, 2006

Bhutan (MNN) — The monarch of the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan may be changing in the coming years. The king announced that he would step down as ruler in 2008 and hold the country’s first national elections for parliament. This may be good news for Christians living in the world’s only Buddhist kingdom, says Words of Hope.

For security reasons we’re not mentioning his name, but a Words of Hope leader says a new constitution has already be drafted. “It is expected that Bhutan will go from being a monarchy to a constitutional monarchy and democracy. And, it is hoped that freedom of religion will increase and that the Gospel will be spread more openly and freely.”

Which is quite different than the present, “A number of Bhutanese believers have told us that Christians are commonly referred to as terrorists and that there are efforts to scare people into believing that this is a grave threat to their country.”

Some local government leaders have taken action. He tells us that two Christians were invited to show the Jesus Film on a village elder’s television. “There were at least two people who had been invited among the neighbors there who reported very quickly to the authorities and this prompted retaliation from a local magistrate who has imprisoned these two men.”

To date the men haven’t been charged and, according to our source, the incident hasn’t been reported to the media or people in higher authority. Christians are praying this news reaches that level. “Although this is an officially Buddhist kingdom there have been some occasions in the past where news of particularly difficult persecution has reached a sympathetic ear in the king and the king has in some cases responded by chastising officials.”

Words of Hope has been broadcasting Christian programming the Bhutanese language of Dzongkha for years.

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