Cambodia marked a century of Christianity on Friday, with Prime Minister Hun Sen pressing for harmony among all religions and requesting that the clergy refrain from forcing people to change their beliefs. Source: UCA News.
He said different denominations within Christianity had flourished in Cambodia since a 30-year civil war ended in 1998, which included the 1975-79 reign of the Khmer Rouge when all forms of religion were banned and thousands perished for their faith.
The Khmer Rouge also obliterated all 73 Catholic churches across Cambodia, tore down the Cathedral of Phnom Penh stone-by-stone and converted a neighbouring Catholic cemetery into a banana plantation.
“During the time of war, religion also suffers. Look at what has happened in Ukraine. For Cambodia, thanks to peace, we are prospering,” Mr Hun Sen said.
“We do not allow our territory to be plagued by religious conflicts.”
“I have mentioned many times that racial and religious differences are not an obstacle to the nation’s development. Please do not force someone to change their belief, it is impossible,” he said.
Christians are a minority in Cambodia and estimates vary widely but according to the Pew Research Center about 0.7 per cent of the population are Christian, most of them Catholic.
The first Christian mission in Cambodia was undertaken by the Portuguese friar Gaspar da Crus of the Dominican order in 1555-1556 but by his own account, the mission was a complete failure.
Others followed, however, Hun Sen was referring to the arrival of the Christian Missionary Alliance in 1923, which resulted in a Khmer translation of the New Testament in 1933 and the publication of the entire Bible in 1953.
Cambodia marks a century of Christianity (UCA News)