In recent years, the position of Christians in Brunei has slightly but steadily deteriorated as the country Islamizes more and more. Brunei has been present in the World Watch List for seven years, fluctuating between ranks of 20 and 30.
Brunei is an Islamic nation, based on an ideology called ‘Malay Islamic Monarchy’. By decree, contact with Christians in other countries, the import of Bibles and the public celebration of Christmas is banned.
In 1991, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah introduced this conservative ideology to Brunei, which presents the monarchy as the defender of the faith. Having this mindset, the Sultan has recently favored Brunei government democratization, and declared himself Prime Minister and President. In 2004, the Legislative Council, which had been dissolved since 1962, was reopened. Sharia law has been fully implemented since 2011 for all Muslims in the country. Islam governs all spheres of life in Brunei. The government follows a plan of Islamization among the tribal people in supporting the so-called ‘Dahkwa’ movement (Islamic evangelism). As one may assume, Christian pastors and workers are considered ‘enemies’. Entering a tribal village will be monitored by government spies and police.
In Brunei, there is a community of expatriate Christians, as well as a community of converts who have to remain largely in hiding.
Anglican and Catholic churches are the only recognized Christian communities in the country, but even they have to be very careful. They are able to celebrate services, but apart from that, they are restricted.
*Names, photographs and other information have been changed for security purposes