There are only so many ways that you can say, ‘There is a crackdown.’
For Algerians, the latest church closures are more of the same. Middle East Concern noted the most recent on October 15, when law enforcement closed three more churches, two of which are the country’s largest.
These closure orders stem from a 2006 ordinance requiring special licenses for buildings used for Christian worship. To date, the government has yet to issue a single permit under this ordinance.
Denise Godwin heads up International Media Ministries, a Christian non-profit looking to create content that puts the Gospel on every screen. She says, “Officially in Algeria and a lot of North Africa, there is no church, according to the officials in these regions. So the fact that they have come to a new level of boldness is a work of God and the Holy Spirit and the times we live in.”
However, the Algerian government denies church closures are discrimination. They point out that their constitution guarantees freedom of religion. For them, the closures happened because churches didn’t have the permits they required to be compliant with the law.
Yet Algeria ranked 22nd on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the countries where it is most challenging to be a Christian, up from 42nd place the previous year. When asked where religious freedom and human rights issues intersect, Godwin observed that this question isn’t new to world history. “The Roman Empire was persecuting people in the same intersection of human rights and religious freedom. You were free as long as you followed their religion. They viewed themselves as very open, and a very just government, and I see history repeating itself.”
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SOURCE: Mission Network News, R.B. Klama