Religious Freedom in Malaysia

Malaysia is a majority Muslim country. Over 60% of the country practices Sunni Islam. There is a small, but vibrant Christian minority (10%) in Malaysia. Churches, seminaries, and ministry efforts have been historically allowed to exist and thrive for the last 200 years.

But in recent years, local believers have experienced increasing persecution.

In the hardest to reach areas of the island nation, Islamic groups are forcing people to register with the government as Muslims. These groups travel to remote places, and bribe impoverished and illiterate subsistence farmers into being legally registered as Muslims. For rural churches where these farmers attend, local pastors are struggling to warn people about the false hope that their condition will improve by converting to Islam. 

Even for those who return to Christianity and become believers, under Malaysia’s sharia law, it is illegal to ever leave Islam. Malaysia registers the religion of all its citizens. In Malaysia, your ID card has your religion printed on it. Practicing Christians who are registered as Muslims are treated like Muslims by the government. They are unable to marry other Christians. Their children are registered as Muslims and will be required to attend Muslim schools. They will receive a Muslim burial. All of this is true even if they are actually followers of Christ.

If sharia law continues to increase, Muslim leaders will be allowed to oversee lashings, amputations, stonings, and crucifixions as criminal penalties for Christians. Conversion from Islam to any other religion will be totally prohibited. 

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission is committed to protecting our Christian brothers and sisters from further persecution and working for the religious freedom of all Malaysians.

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