World Watch List: 33
Leader: Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay
Main Religion: Buddhism
Government: Constutional Monarchy
Source of Persecution: Religious Nationalism
Open Doors supports the church in Bhutan through:
- Discipleship training
- Literature distribution
- Literacy classes
- Emergency relief
Buddhism as spiritual heritage
According to the constitution, Bhutan is a secular state and affirms religious tolerance. However, it also states that Buddhism is the spiritual heritage of the country; it is also the “responsibility of all religious institutions and personalities to promote the spiritual heritage of the country”.
Worship in the dark
Bhutanese Christians are mostly concentrated in towns and in the south, where there are many migrants from Nepal and India. The church has several internal difficulties, like disunity, lack of trained leadership, and lack of Christian materials in the national language.
Christians are technically allowed to gather for worship – and they do so in small rented houses. But because no church has been able to be officially registered, villagers often disrupt meetings, and local authorities question their legality, all while issuing serious threats. As a result, many believers choose to meet very early in the morning or in the evening (with lights off) to avoid suspicion.
Children must learn Buddhism
It is near impossible to hold a Christian funeral – believers usually bury their deceased in neighbouring India. They are harassed if they do not participate in religious festivals and contribute to them. Neighbouring farmers usually help each other during planting and harvesting times, but Christians are left out. It is difficult for the children of Christians to be admitted into schools, and when they do, they are required to learn and practice Buddhism, and are frequently bullied.
- For Christians to have strength and faith when facing persecution. Pray that the opposition will unite and strengthen them as a church.
- That God will soften the hearts of the Bhutanese people and make them receptive to the gospel.
- That the hold and influence that Buddhism has over Bhutan will gradually loosen.