Source: Morning Star News, October 3, 2023
In Savannakhet Province’s Khampou village, Assaphone District, the village deputy village chief and local security officials on Sunday [October 1] disrupted the service and ordered church leader Sard Onmeunsee and 17 other Christians to stop worship, according to Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF).
“They were threatened with arrest and a huge fine if they did not follow the officials’ order to discontinue exercising their religious freedom or belief to worship,” HRWLRF said in a press statement.
On the supposition that the church members had angered spirits or gods by leaving them for Christianity, the officials also threatened to impose large fines on the Christians if other people in the village became ill or died. In addition, two Christians from a nearby village who had come to the service were threatened with automatic arrest if they rejoined the church for worship, according to HRWLRF.
After a family in the animist village became the first Christians there in 2019, about 180 Lao villagers accepted Christ over the next two years, HRWLRF stated.
“Thus began pressures and threats from the local government upon Christians, coercing them to give up their religious faith,” the group stated. “The local government subjected Christians to intimidation, threats, and coercion throughout 2022 and 2023, forcing them to abandon their Christian religion until today; only three families (15 Christian believers) from around 180 Christians remained in the Christian faith, led by Mrs. Sard Onmeunsee.”
The full story also reports on a family of seven whose house was destroyed and have been barred from returning to their village unless they give up their Christian faith.
It’s worth noting that times are tough for many in Laos. See “I Feel Hopeless,” Living in Laos on the Brink (BBC).