The Chhoedey Lhentshog, an authority that registers religious organizations in Bhutan and is limited to Buddhist and Hindu, might allow registration of Christian organizations after December, a well read Christian news portal reported Monday.
According to Compass Direct News (CDN), which is a news service dedicated to providing exclusive news, penetrating reports, moving interviews and insightful analyses of situations and events facing Christians persecuted for their faith, the government seems ready to grant much-awaited official recognition and accompanying rights to a miniscule Christian population that has remained largely underground.
The report said, the authority that regulates religious organizations will discuss in its next meeting – to be held by the end of December – how a Christian organization can be registered to represent its community, agency secretary Dorji Tshering told CDN by phone.
“The constitution of Bhutan says that Buddhism is the country’s spiritual heritage, but it also says that the king is the protector of all religions,” he added, explaining the basis on which the nascent democracy is willing to accept Christianity as one of the faiths of its citizens, reported CDN.
The CDN report also revealed an undisclosed source which claimed that the government is likely to register only one Christian organization and would expect it to represent all Christians in Bhutan – which would call for Christian unity in the country.
Tshering further told CDN that the planned discussion at the December meeting is meant to look at technicalities in the Religious Organizations Act of 2007, which provides for registration and regulation of religious groups with intent to protect and promote the country’s spiritual heritage.
In the first week of October, a Christianity promoter, Prem Singh Gurung from Tarithang, was sentenced to three years’ prison by Gelephug District court charging him for attempting to promote civil unrest.
Gurung was arrested on May 21 as he was found screening movies on Christianity in Simkharkha and Gonggaon, two remote villages in Bhutan.
The National Assembly had banned open practice of non-Buddhist and non-Hindu religions by passing resolutions in 1969 and in 1979.