Myanmar’s Christian population has increased dramatically, according to the latest figures released in a supplement to the 2014 Population and Housing Census, conducted by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).
Christians now make up 6.2 per cent of the population – more than three million people – compared to 4.9 per cent the last time a full census was conducted in 1983.
Christianity is the second most popular religion in Myanmar, with almost 88 per cent of the population identifying as Buddhists, the dominant religion. Hinduism showed small gains, while animism and Islam showed a decline, although the census did not count the estimated one million Rohingya Muslims, considered to be non-citizens.
The latest report showed that half of Myanmar’s three million Christians live in the states of Shan, Kachin and Chin. More than 85 per cent of people in Chin state say they are Christian, and this is the only state that doesn’t have a Buddhist majority.
Christians in Kachin account for 34 per cent of the population. However, Daw Khun Jar, coordinator of the Kachin Peace Network, feels the Buddhist majority in Kachin is a fabrication, and has called on the government to release the true figures.
The relationship between both the Kachin and Karen ethnic groups and the government is tense, a situation which is being exacerbated by slow progress in identifying and prosecuting perpetrators of the many documented cases of sexual assault in the two states by Myanmar troops.
Christians in Karen State have also recently been threatened by a spate of Buddhist nationalists illegally building pagodas on church grounds.
- Give thanks for the growth of the Church and Christianity in Myanmar.
- Pray for protection for Myanmar’s Christians, especially in the Karen and Kachin States, where they are often targeted by troops and Buddhist nationalists.
- Pray for the government of Myanmar to take allegations of abuse against Christians seriously and seek to bring justice to the victims, regardless of religion.
- Pray for the continued spread of the Gospel across this nation, for freedom to worship for all people, and for many to have life changing encounters with Jesus Christ.
Acts 5 vs14: “Yet more than ever believers were added to the Lord, great numbers of both men and women,”