|Christian Population||30 000 (OD estimate %)|
In Bhutan, the government assumes that all citizens are Buddhist. Anyone who converts to Christianity is watched with suspicion by neighbours, friends and even immediate family, and efforts are usually made to bring them back to their former religion. Religious leaders, the local community and family often cooperate in this.If everything fails, converts’ families will disown them. Because life in Bhutan is still very communal and the proximity and protection of the family are important, being disowned is a significant form of persecution against converts from Buddhism to Christianity.
No Christian Church in Bhutan has official government recognition—all Christians who worship together are technically worshiping illegally. Local authorities often refuse to issue Christians a “non-objection certificate,” which is needed for loan applications, registering property, applying for jobs and renewing their ID cards. Particularly in rural areas, Buddhist monks oppose the presence of Christians.
Buddhism is engrained in daily life in Bhutan. Government officials will do whatever is necessary to preserve the country’s Buddhist heritage. Many officials are heavily influenced by Buddhist monks, and there is a longstanding practice of monks working in and for the government.
“Growing up in a Buddhist family, I had a lot of responsibility for pleasing the deities that my forefathers had worshipped and doing all the cultural and traditional practices we as a Buddhist family used to do. But now, after becoming a Christian myself, I came to realize that we were wrong in so many things. It was like coming out of the darkness and being able to see again.”
Miriam* became an outcast the day she accepted Jesus Christ as her Saviour—rejected by the family and the community she was once a part of. There is no turning back for Miriam—who has chosen to live as an outcast and bear her cross—but God is using her to encourage and support other Christian women.
*Name changed for security reasons
What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Bhutan?
Through our local partners, Open Doors provides immediate aid to Bhutanese believers when their faith in Christ lands them in prison, excludes them from families and communities, and deprives them of livelihood and employment. We also strengthen the persecuted Church in Bhutan through working with partners on literature distribution, discipleship, persecution preparedness and prayer support.