by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - The Burmese army is continuing to target and destroy churches in predominantly Christian areas of Myanmar, amid an increasingly volatile and violent situation in the conflict-wracked country, UCA News reports.
Having carried out a military coup in February last year, the Tatamadawhas since conducted a campaign of murder, destruction, and displacement against rebel forces and non-Buddhist minority populations.
Both Protestant and Catholic churches have been under continual attack by the Tatamadaw, with at least 15 parishes in Loikaw Diocese coming under fire in the recent escalation of fighting over the last two months, UCA News reports. One church was hit by airstrikes, another by artillery shelling, for example.
A senior church leader from Loikaw told UCA News that his parishioners are living in a war zone. “Amid the worsening situation, we remain together with hundreds of IDPs [internally displaced persons], especially women, children, and the elderly in Loikaw town,” he said.
Christians make up about 8 percent of Myanmar's population of around 55 million. Around four-fifths of the Christians are Protestants, particularly Baptists of the Myanmar Baptist Convention; Roman Catholics make up the rest.
Myanmar ranks 12 on the US Open Doors Watch List 2022 of the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted. Even without the military conflict, Christian converts from Buddhism or Islam can experience tremendous opposition and harassment from their families and communities.