|Persecution Type:||Communist and Post-communist Oppression|
|Persecution Level:||Very High|
|Leader:||President Bounnhang Vorachith|
In one of the world’s poorest countries, Communism is growing bolder again, as authorities heavily monitor all religious activities, including those of registered Christian churches. House churches are forced to operate illegally. Because Christianity is seen as a Western ideology that challenges Communism, state authorities oppose any perceived Western influence and seek to control the small Christian minority.
To justify monitoring believers, local authorities often leverage society’s hostile attitude towards Christians. In 2018, violence against Christians increased with provincial and local authorities often cooperating with community leaders like Buddhist monks to pressure Christians, especially converts.
Converts to Christianity face the most severe forms of Christian persecution. Abandoning Buddhism or tribal animist beliefs is seen as a betrayal to family members and the community, which fuels the perception that Christians essentially excommunicate themselves from the Buddhist-animist community.
Consequently, believers are persecuted by their immediate and/or extended family (usually one Laotian household is composed of three generations under one roof) and by local authorities who often stir up the community. Christians must take extreme caution to avoid negative reactions from government officials. And in rural areas, ordinary residents watch Christians with suspicion and sometimes even drive them out of their villages.
In November 2018, police in Laos arrested a 78-year-old grandmother and three other Christians while they were worshipping, according to Human Rights Watch for Laos Religious Freedom. Police also evicted them from their homes and property.
Upon hearing multiple reports of people coming to Christ through a local evangelist’s healing ministry (he was healed and began healing others), police targeted him for capture and arrest. He was sentenced to five months in prison.
The 2017 Decree on Associations law has already been leveraged primarily against Christians, shutting down and limiting believers’ gatherings, especially in rural areas. The law requires that any gatherings, political, civic or religious, must first get approval from multiple government offices.
Laotian house church leader Tao and his family have endured persecution for almost a decade. Recently, villagers have become increasingly hostile, resorting to violence and attempts to destroy the family's livelihood. Read More
When 17-year-old Nani* and sixteen-year-old Nha Phong* turned from their family's animistic beliefs and converted to Christianity, their family became their persecutors. Read More
Today, by God’s grace, 62 churches and more than 3,000 believers are scattered throughout Oum province through the leadership of Jik and her daughter. Read More