BHUTAN – OFFICIAL RECOGNITION ELUDES CHRISTIAN GROUPS

(Compass Direct News) – Bhutan officials have given assurances that freedom for Christians to worship “within the cultural norms” of the tiny Buddhist nation in the Himalayas will not be violated, but they remain ambiguous on whether and when the miniscule community will obtain legal identity. The cultural norms include a prohibition against proselytizing. But Bhutan Minister for Home and Culture Lyonpo Minjur Dorji told Compass there are provisions in the Constitution of Bhutan that can be interpreted as allowing room for Christianity. The country’s agency regulating religious organizations was expected to make a decision last December on whether it could register a Christian federation representing all Christians, but an official at the agency said the matter requires further investigation. Meantime, Home Minister Dorji indicated no change was necessary. Dorji Tshering, member secretary of the regulatory authority locally known as Chhoedey Lhentshog, told Compass that “certain issues” needed to be looked into before a decision could be made. “The intent of the Religious Organizations Act of Bhutan [under which the regulatory authority functions] is to protect and preserve the spiritual heritage of Bhutan,” he said. “We need to see if such preconditions can be met if we register a Christian organization.” Bhutan’s constitution states that Buddhism is the “spiritual heritage” of the country.

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  1. ROGELIO AGUILAR VALENZUELA

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