By Wendy Ryan
April 20, 2001
WASHINGTON (BP)--Christians in the country of Bhutan are facing a much-escalated level of opposition and persecution, according to a report to the Baptist World Alliance from D. Kitbok Ryntathiang, director of the Christian Academy, Shillong, in northeast India.
Bhutan is a small country of more than 2 million people in the Himalayan mountain region and bordered by Tibet and India.
According to Ryntathiang's report, when Christians came to church on Sunday morning, April 8, they were met by authorities and police who recorded their names. Some Christians ran away out of fear, not wanting to be identified.
The police have interrogated a number of pastors and threatened them with imprisonment, demanding that the churches stop their witnessing. Authorities have even closed down churches, especially those that rent their facilities from Buddhist landowners, Ryntathiang reported, noting that the churches are fearful of unnamed additional actions by authorities.
Seventy-five percent of Bhutan's population are Tibetan Buddhist and the country is ruled by constitutional monarchy.
The Christian church in Bhutan numbers just a few thousand, and both Nepalese and Indian believers have been instrumental in evangelizing Bhutan.
BWA General Secretary Denton Lotz has written to Ryntathiang and assured him of the prayers of the Baptist community worldwide.