In 1975, following six centuries of monarchy and then colonization by France that ended in 1949, communists took over Laos and instituted socialism. Today, roughly 7.5 million people from 49 ethnic groups live in Laos, with just under two-thirds identifying as Buddhist, a third as no religion and less than two percent as Christian.
Communists espouse atheism and empower the state as the highest authority, ruthlessly clamping down on any threat to the godless ideology. In Laos, communist officials outlaw Christian house churches, tightly regulate and restrict church building and activities and use informants to help them target Christians.
The U.S. Department of State reports:
- Christian religious leaders say the government “continues to strictly enforce a prohibition on proselytizing in public, including by foreigners.”
- To enforce communist indoctrination and squash competing worldviews, the government also controls the domestic production of and bans the import of religious publications.
- “Christian students [are forced to] attend prayers in Buddhist temples during cultural classes taught there as part of the public school curriculum.”
Persecution includes detention by government authorities and physical assaults. Individuals who convert from the dominant religions of Buddhism or traditional animism face the greatest persecution, including from their own families.
The Law on the Evangelical Church, signed on Dec. 19, 2019, allows Lao Christians the right to conduct services and preach, and to maintain contacts with believers in other countries. Lao churches must fund their own operations and obey other Lao laws, rules, and regulations.
But officials in rural areas continue to abuse Evangelicals.
In 2020, four Christians were arrested and jailed for planning a funeral for a Christian family. Village authorities said the ceremonies did not “conform with Lao culture, which creates unrest and divides community solidarity.” With the men in jail, their wives and children faced daily hardships trying to make a living.
Seven Christians were chased from their homes by local authorities and forced to live in huts in the forest because they refused to renounce their faith. “They have no food or clothing and do not know where to turn for help. The village authorities will not allow relatives or other people to help them,” a villager told a news agency. Family members feared they would be thrown out of their homes in they provided help.
What CFI is doing
Persecution is the norm in Laos for Christians. Villagers consider Christianity a foreign religion, against their Laos pride and communism. According to informal reports, of the Christians who have been killed, it is by villagers (not the government).
Christian Freedom International connects with Christian leaders to disciple and strengthen the faith of Christians to endure persecution.
What You Can Do
- For courage, wisdom and protection for Christians – including children – who must tread very carefully under communist oppression and the sometimes violent opposition of their own families and villages.
- For great revival in Laos in spite of government controls and persecution.
- For changes in local authorities to allow religious freedom