Earlier this year Christians in the Himalayan nation of Bhutan, longing to practice their faith openly, were disheartened by the government’s proposed “anti-conversion” laws, used by other nations to falsely accuse Christians of “coercion.” Now, for the first time in Bhutan’s history, this Buddhist nation’s government seems ready to grant much-awaited official recognition and accompanying rights to the small Christian population, currently meeting largely underground.
While the constitution of Bhutan declares Buddhism to be the country’s spiritual heritage, the Religious Organizations Act of 2007 provides for registration and regulation of religious groups with intent to protect and promote the country’s spiritual heritage. The government began to enforce the Act only in November of 2009, a year after the advent of democracy.
At their next meeting, to be held by the end of December, Chhoedey Lhentshog, the authority that regulates religious activity, will consider how a Christian organization can be registered to represent its community. It is likely that Christian churches will be permitted to register officially, meet and construct buildings. It is thought that the current king, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, is supportive of the move to include Christianity. And in return, the Christian community appears to be committed to preserve the country’s unique culture and contribute to the building of the nation. Please keep this important governmental decision in your prayers.
We thank you, Lord, and give You praise for the encouragement in Bhutan. We pray that Your church there will be united and will grow and flourish in the freedom that is likely to come. May a multitude of new believers rise up to worship You there.
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