Eritrea (MNN) ― The latest U.S. State Department International Religious Freedom Report indicates Eritrea has made little positive progress on religious liberty.
Adelle Konyndyk with Voice of the Martyrs Canada says, "They're trying to crackdown on evangelical Christians as a means of controlling or even ridding Eritrea of Christianity. The government basically is cracking down on anyone who is outside of those registered bodies."
In May 2002, the government's first step led to the ban and closure of all independent churches not operating under the umbrella of the Orthodox, Lutheran, Catholic, and Muslim religious structures.
Authorities want to quash the spread of anything they consider "too radical," which appears to be aimed at stopping the growth of Christianity. Konyndyk says, "The military seeks to imprison key leaders, making it hard for these churches to publicly worship and spread the Gospel in Eritrea."
"The Eritrean government, itself, maintains that no groups or persons are persecuted in Eritrea for their beliefs or their religion," says Konyndyk. However, in 2004 the State Department designated Eritrea as a Country of Particular Concern on a list of the worst violators of religious freedom.
Further, although Eritrea provided for religious freedom in a 1997 constitution, a border war with Ethiopia delayed the implementation.
Of the more than 2,000 Christians under arrest in police stations, military camps and jails across Eritrea for of their religious beliefs, many have been incarcerated for years. No one has been charged officially or given access to judicial processes.
According to Konyndyk, that means leaders of large unregistered bodies like the Full Gospel Church and Rhema Church are viewed as threats.
Keep praying, because it is making a difference. "It is a positive sign that human rights organizations and the U.S. Department of State are publicly taking notice of the persecution that is going on here. "
Pray for believers in prison to be strengthened and stand firm in their faith. Pra,y too, that the government will stop the campaign against evangelicals and allow freedom of religion for all.