|Persecution Type:||Religious nationalism|
|Persecution Level:||Very High|
|Leader:||King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck|
All Bhutanese citizens are expected to follow Buddhism. Converts to Christianity are watched with suspicion and often face pressure to return to their former religion. Religious leaders, the local community and family often cooperate in trying to persuade converts to abandon their Christian faith. No churches have official recognition by the state, which means that Christians are technically worshiping illegally. Local authorities often refuse to issue Christians with a certificate needed for loans, jobs and more. Persecution in Bhutan has never been particularly violent, and no violence was reported this year however violence can often go unreported.
A continuing emphasis on Mahayana Buddhism as the country’s spiritual heritage makes life hard for the Christian minority. Because no Christian congregation has ever been allowed to build a church structure, all Christian fellowships remain underground. Especially in rural areas, Buddhist monks oppose the presence of Christians with impunity; authorities do nothing to protect Christians and most often side with the monks.
For converts, family members are by far the strongest sources of persecution. Life in Bhutan is still very communal, and the proximity and protection of family is important. For that reason, disownment by their families is a costly risk.
One house church was forced to close and cease meetings after receiving warnings and threats from authorities. Two pastors were held for questioning.
Christian students were reportedly forced to participate in morning and evening Buddhist rituals and in one instance, even in cleaning Buddhist shrines.
One of the traditions of Bhutanese farmers is community planting and harvesting, where several farmers share the workload and help each other. Christian farmers are usually excluded from these communal gatherings.
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