Laos Christians Pressured To Worship "Local Spirits"

Thursday, July 16, 2009

By Worthy News Asia Service

VIENTIANE, LAOS (Worthy News) -- Dozens of Christian families in a village in Laos have been warned they will lose their homes and remaining live stock unless they abandon Christianity and start worshiping “local spirits” in accordance with Lao traditions, rights investigators said Thursday, July 16.

Authorities already slaughtered pigs of the 53 Christian residents in Katin village in the Ta Oih district of Saravan province,  each worth the equivalent of six weeks' salary for an average laborer in the area, said The Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF).

On Saturday,  July 11, local authorities also announced they would confiscate other livestock and properties following a meeting for all residents where they announced that they had “banned the Christian faith in our village,” the advocacy group said in a statement distributed by Compass Direct News, a Christian news service.

Christians said the measures were a form of punishment for ignoring the order to abandon Christianity.


Last September officials seized a buffalo worth approximately US$350 from a Christian resident identified only as Bounchu, telling him the animal would be returned only if he renounced his faith, Christians said.

The Katin village leader said spirit worship was the only acceptable form of worship in the community,  according to HRWLRF investigators.

It comes amid growing pressure on Christians in rural areas of Laos, amid concerns within the government about the spread of Christianity in the Asian country, Christians have said.