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-Laos: Christian leaders Arrested Following Christmas Celebration

by Dr. D ~ December 21st, 2011

Laos Savannakhet

       (Laos, & S. Prov. via Wikipedia)

Laos: Eight Christian leaders in Boukham village of Savannakhet Province were arrested on Friday (Dec. 18) following a Christmas celebration attended by some 200 church members.

According to the report, the leaders had received permission for the event and the village chief had even attended part of it. However, following the formal worship, the village security forces entered the building and detained the 8 leaders without any formal charges.

Provincial authorities were alerted and district police arrived on Saturday to investigate the incident. Later that afternoon, a denominational leader from the Lao Evangelical Church (a church recognized by the Lao Government) came to plead for their release. Unfortunately, the leaders remain in custody and in stocks.

Following the payment of a large fine, at least one leader was released. Meanwhile the other 7 remain in jail under the worst of conditions with no formal charges against them.

According to Compass Direct:

“…the village chief told the detainees that they had violated “hiit,” or the traditional spirit cult of the village, by gathering for a Christian worship service. He then ordered them not to practice Christianity in Boukham for fear that the spirits would be offended, HRWLRF reported (Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom).
Under hiit, residents must worship and placate the spirits of the village to ensure the fertility of their fields and to ensure ongoing safety and prosperity for their families.
Many believe that the departure of a few people from this practice will bring distress for the entire village.
Boukham’s chief asked the detainees to admit their guilt and agree not to worship Christ in the village, but all seven refused, …”

Response: This is a ‘War on Christmas’ of a different kind entirely. In fact it is an attack on Christians and freedom of religion period.

Regardless of all of the controversy in America over Nativity scenes on public property we still have freedom of worship in this country. Stories like this help us to appreciate what freedoms we do have even if those freedoms seem to be challenged at times.

This would be a good time to remember our Laotian Christian brothers and sisters in prayer. May they be blessed with greater freedom and understanding from their village leaders and their country in the months and years to come.            *Top

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