Bhutan, previously ranked 14 on the World Watch List has moved down to rank 17. Praise God for this improvement, and pray that the countries ranking higher would de-escalate and diminish in their mistreatment of Christians. According to Open Doors:
The constitution guarantees free expression of faith, but penalizes forcible conversions – which can be abused to the detriment of believers. The Drukpa people, who comprise 68 percent of the population, are often staunch Buddhists, zealous in protecting their religion. To convert to a different faith is a shameful act and is often met with criticism, discrimination in the workplace and social pressure. Most persecution takes place in rural areas, where Buddhist monks oppose the presence of Christians.
• For encouragement for the Drukpa believers, who are often forced to meet secretly
• Christian children must attend Buddhist religious rites and festivals as part of their education. Pray that they would be established in God’s truth through the example of their parents
• Many Christian families struggle with marital unfaithfulness and drug abuse among teenagers. Ask God to help church leaders to strengthen Christian families.
According to Voice of the Martyrs:
Globalization and modernization are gradually opening Bhutan to the outside world, but it remains one of the smallest and least developed economies in the world. Bhutan made the shift to democratic rule in March 2008. Out of 35 different people groups, 32 are unreached by the gospel.
Category: Restricted Nation
Religion: Buddhist 74.6%, Indigenous Religions 0.4%, Hindu 22.4%, Christian 2.1%
Head of State: King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck
The number of Christians in Bhutan is estimated at between 3,000 and 6,000 people, most of them secret believers. Christians face societal discrimination as well as anti-Christian policies. Christian leaders say they may practice their faith in private homes, but public worship and evangelism are limited by government policies against non-Buddhist houses of worship and meetings.
Bhutan’s National Security Act (NSA) further restricts freedom of religion by prohibiting “words either spoken or written, or by other means whatsoever, that promote or attempt to promote, on grounds of religion, race, language, caste, or community, or on any other ground whatsoever, feelings of enmity or hatred between different religious, racial, or language groups or castes and communities.” In 2011, the prime minister stated that he views conversions to Christianity as “the worst form of intolerance.” This article is similar to the “anti-conversion laws” in place in some Indian states. Only Buddhist religious texts are allowed in the country.
Describing Christianity as “intolerance” is familiar in America. We are told often that our “religious views” are simply masks for our hatred and intolerance of other people. This is no more true of American Christians than it is of Bhutanese Christians.
Please pray that the love and kindness of the Bhutanese Christians would be made evident to the non-believers in that state. Pray that they would not become discouraged by small numbers or great difficulties or government restrictions. Pray also that their hearts would not grow hardened against their persecutors, but that their love and prayers for them would abound. Pray that they would have courage and peace despite opposition and would win many people to Christ through their faithful living.