A new law in Laos threatens the freedom of Christians to get together. In August 2017, Laos’ Prime Minister signed the Decree on Associations which requires all religious meetings to get approval first from several government offices. However, interdenominational organization Voice of the Martyrs claimed that approval is rarely given, reports Mission Network News.
We pray that frontline workers and evangelists will continue to carry forth the Gospel in spite of the hurdles that are being put in front of them. —Todd Nettleton with VOM
Todd Nettleton, VOM’s Chief of Media Relations and Message Integration, said the new law targets people who gather regardless of purpose–may it be religious, political or labor related. “So the focus of the law is not necessarily particularly aimed at religion; however, the concern among the Christians in Laos is it’s going to be used primarily to shut down religious activity and religious expression.”
VOM fears that the new law will add pressure to people who are in the frontlines in sharing the Good News. To be able to continue with their Gospel activities, church workers must secure a permit first. “If they don’t do it legally, they are subject to arrest and persecution,” added Nettleton.
The World Watch List for “very high persecution” of Christians puts Laos in 20th place. The government’s decree allowing the Ministry of Home Affairs to stop any religious activity that contradicts the country’s policies or traditions add to the persecution Lao Christians deal with.
VOM hopes that the Laos government repeal the law that is unfair to religious minorities in the country. “Regardless of what the government does, we pray that frontline workers and evangelists will continue to carry forth the Gospel in spite of the hurdles that are being put in front of them,” said Nettleton.