March 16, 2012
Christians in two provinces in Laos are facing an ultimatum: recant their faith or be expelled from their villages, ASSIST News Service reports. Khamla, a new believer and the only known Christian in the entire Viengphuka district of Luang Namtha Province, has been told to recant or leave his village, and 10 Christian families -- comprising some 65 believers -- in the Pakoo district of Luangprabang Province have been given until March 18 to comply with the same order. Other Christian families in other villages are at similar risk, and some who have already been expelled after refusing to recant are struggling to survive. Religious liberty is enshrined in the Laos constitution, but it is restricted by two laws forbidding anything that could cause social division. Virtually all religious activity must be approved by government officials, and Christians refusing to recant their faith are routinely punished by denial of services and ultimately expulsion from their village.