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Islamic teachings are compulsory in Brunei schools

All students from the 2nd to the 5th grades must attend an hour of Islamic religious teachings every day, including the practise of Islamic prayers and study of the Quran.

Christians make up only 12% of the population in Brunei. Even though the constitution guarantees freedom of religion, it is illegal to evangelise, and Muslims are not allowed to convert to another religion. The law states: “The religion of Brunei Darussalam shall be the Muslim religion according to the Shafeite sect of that religion, provided that all other religions may be practised in peace and harmony by the person professing them in any part of Brunei Darussalam.”

Even though it’s not illegal to be a Christian, as long as they are from a Christian family, the followers of Jesus face intense pressure daily. They can be disowned by families, separated from their children, forcibly married to a Muslim or made to attend Islamic rehabilitation programmes. The state does not permit new churches to be built; the only existing registered churches date back to British colonial times. Many Protestant churches cannot register as “churches”; they can only be filed as businesses or secular organisations that submit financial and organisational reports to the government each year. If they fail to register, they can face charges of unlawful assembly and fines. Individuals who participate in or influence others to join unregistered organisations can also be fined, arrested and imprisoned. Approval to register is at the discretion of the Registrar of Societies or Commissioner of Police and may be refused for any reason.

The government continues to use zoning laws that prohibit the use of private homes as places of worship. While the country had several Chinese temples, only the temple in the capital was registered officially. The other temples were not charged for failing to register, but they were prohibited from organising functions and celebrations.

Brunei has strict guidelines about any non-Islamic worship. Public Christmas celebrations are banned. Therefore, Christians can only celebrate Christmas in secret places. Bibles and Christian literature can be imported for personal use only.


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