Bhutan, South Asia
Political Leader: King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck
Religions: Buddhism 72%, Hinduism 23%, Islam 4%, Christianity 0.5%, Other 0.5%
Persecution Ranking: 5
Number of Terrorist Groups: 4
Acts of Terrorism: 2; Casualties: 0
Percent of Corruption: 40%
% of People in Poverty: 31.7%
The mountain nation of Bhutan is a country nestled in the eastern Himalayas. It has been called the last place on the “Roof of the World.” Bhutan is one of the most isolated and least developed nations in the world. Foreign influences and tourism are heavily regulated by the government to preserve the country's traditional culture and national identity.
In 1865, Bhutan signed an agreement with Britain agreeing to receive an annual subsidy in exchange for some land bordering British India, and by 1907 a monarchy was established in Bhutan under British influence. In 1910 a treaty was signed where Britain agreed not to interfere in the internal affairs of Bhutan, and the country gave Britain the right to direct its foreign affairs. India assumed that role after 1947.
According to England’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, there is a low threat from terrorism in Bhutan. While the threat of terrorism remained low, a series of bomb blasts occurred in Thimphu, Samste, Chukha and Dagana on January 20, 2008, injuring one person. The Royal Bhutan Police also confirmed that an unexploded bomb was found in a vegetable market in Dagana. There have also been bomb attacks and several attempted attacks in and around Phuntsholing, located in southwestern Bhutan on the Indian border). No one has claimed responsibility for any of these attacks.
Mahayana Buddhism is the state religion in the Himalayan nation of Bhutan. Hinduism also has a powerful influence on the population. Officially, the Christian faith does not exist, and Christians are not allowed to pray or celebrate in public. Also, the government forbids Christian house gatherings that involve several families. Religious workers are denied visas to enter the country.
Challenges for Christians:
Many Christian children are able to go to school but face much discrimination. When officials find out that the student is a Christian, higher education in most cases is denied. For Christians with government jobs, discrimination is also the main issue, although there are cases of Believers being deprived of government jobs simply because of their faith. The import of printed religious matter is restricted, and only Buddhist religious texts are allowed in the country.
Society exerts strong pressure to comply with Buddhist norms. Harassment and pressure by Buddhist zealots, especially in strong Buddhist areas, is the main cause of concern for many Christians. Believers are not only experiencing pressure from the authorities but also from Buddhist clerics, and they are sometimes faced with physical assaults. Bhutan is ranked No. 5 on the Open Doors’ 2008 World Watch List, the only Buddhist nation in the 10 highest countries on the list.
- Pray that the threat of terrorism would continue to remain low in Bhutan.
- King Jigme Singye Wanchuck began preparing the country for major democratic reforms in 2005 and abdicated the throne to his son in 2006 so that he would gain experience as chief of state before the democratic transition, which is anticipated in 2008. Pray that the son will respect the promises of his father. Pray that the leaders will have wisdom in how to transition to a different form of government.
- Bhutan has one of the world’s smallest and underdeveloped economies. Pray that the majority of the population who relies on agriculture and forestry for their livelihood would reap fruitful harvests.
- Pray for a stable Bhutan economy, which is closely linked to India’s through trade and dependence on India’s financial assistance.
- Bhutan is made up almost entirely of Buddhism and Hinduism. Pray that the strongholds from these two major religions would be broken and Christianity would be brought to Bhutan.
Pray for strength and hope among harassed Christians, that they would continue to profess Jesus’ name. Pray for their safety and workers for this harvest.
Sources: Open Doors, Wikipedia, kingdomofbhutan.org
Sources: 24-7 Prayer, Operation World, CIA Factbook, Wikipedia, International Religious Freedom Report 2007, Country Reports on Terrorism 2007, England’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office