Christian persecution at hands of Buddhists rise in recent years

Buddhism has been known as a persecuted religion, but a Vaticanista has observed that its followers have become the perpetrators of abuse and persecution of non-Buddhists, especially in countries where it is considered a majority religion.

(REUTERS / Athit Perawongmetha)Buddhists carry candles as they pray during Vesak Day, an annual celebration of Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death, at Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon temple in Ayutthaya, Thailand. Picture taken using long exposure. May 10, 2017.

Vatican correspondent Sandro Magister has observed that in most of the Asian countries where Buddhism is the dominant faith, non-Buddhists fall victim to "cruel religious repression." One example of this trend is the persecution of the Muslim Rohingya community in Myanmar, which Pope Francis denounced in his speech in St. Peter's Square on Aug. 27, The Church Militant reported.

"Sad news has come about the persecution of a religious minority, our Rohingya brothers. I would like to express all my nearness to them," said Pope Francis. "And let us all ask the Lord to save them and to raise up men and women of good will in their aid, who will give them their full rights."

Pope Francis is set to take a four-day trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh in November. The pontiff will have to find the right words to uplift the persecuted religious minorities in the two countries amid a rise in Buddhist extremist nationalism, Aleteia detailed.

Benedict Rogers, an expert in human rights in Asia, told the National Catholic Register that Pope Francis' voice of concern over the situation of the Rohingya Muslims will serve as a message to Muslim-majority nations all over the world. He said the same message would apply to Bangladesh, where Christians are being pressured by the government.

Myanmar currently ranks 28th on the World Watch List of the worst Christian persecutors compiled by Open Doors USA. The organization also said persecution in Vietnam had worsened starting November 2016 after the passing of the Law on Belief and Religion, which tightened the religious freedom situation of local Christians.

In Laos, Christians who do not perform Buddhist practices are considered a threat to their culture, and Christian leaders could either be unlawfully arrested or face death. The situation is similar in Bhutan and Sri Lanka, where people who leave Buddhism suffer persecution and monks actively oppose Christianity.