Church Closed, Pastor Interrogated by EC Officials
17 November 2010: A church with a congregation member of 19 households has been ordered to indefinitely stop its regular religious worship service and related programs in Gangaw Township.
Pastor Mang Tling, 47, works at Dawdin Village of Gangaw Township, Mergui Division. His church is part of a mission project run by the Carson Baptist Church in Kalaymyo, Sagaing Division.
On November 9, he was summoned by the Election Commission in Gangaw Town. The local police took pictures of the compound of his church and ordered him to stop holding worship services at the church, as well as, to discontinue a nursery program run by his church.
Pastor Mang Tling spent one week in Gangaw to answer questions by the Election Commission officials. He was allowed to return to Dawdin on November 14.
During the election campaigning period, Pastor Mang Tling was given a Union Solidarity and Development Party (USPD) campaign T-Shirt by the Dawdin Village Headman who was a strong supporter of the USDP. Pastor Mang Tling refused to take the T-Shirt.
When the USPD was defeated by the National Unity Party (NUP) in the November 7 election, the Village Headman U Than Chaung filed a report with the local authorities accusing Pastor Mang Tling of convincing Christian voters in the village to vote in favor of the NUP.
According to Burma’s election laws, religious leaders are liable to be penalized for engaging in politics in general and electoral campaigns in particular. Members of the religious orders are excluded from suffrage rights.
As of late Wednesday, the order still stands for the closure of Dawdin Baptist Church and its nursery learning program.