Algeria (MNN) — Over the last two years, forced church closures have been on the rise in Algeria. Finally, they are starting to get some attention. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has raised concerns over Algeria’s treatment of Christians, particularly the forced closures of at least 12 Evangelical Protestant churches.
Since 2006, all religious groups must register their places of worship with the Algerian government. The only religion not required to follow this ordinance is the majority religion of Islam. However, the government often uses strict requirements for places of worship, resulting in the denial of applications.
The USCIRF emphasized the need to protect places of worship during a recent hearing. USCIRF Chair Tony Perkins says the right to religious freedom is a right all people should maintain, including the right to access their places of worship. Christians who attempt living into this right put themselves at risk in Algeria.
“We don’t hear a lot about Algeria, but it’s extremely dangerous for believers to live there,” Patrick Murphy says, with I Found the Truth.
The USCIRF’s Vice Chair Gayle Manchin has called on the Algerian government to reopen the closed churches and to stop harassing the Christian community in the country. If history is any indicator, it is unlikely the Algerian government will heed this call.
Persecution in Algeria
The World Watch List ranks Algeria #22 of the hardest countries to live in as a Christian. Open Doors USA, publishers of the World Watch List, says the persecution level of Christians is very high in the country.
“We have seen pictures and even videos of police coming in and closing down churches; believers being in prayer meetings, and they’re forcibly dragged out, and the doors are locked for good. And so, I mean this is a bad thing. Of course, it’s a terrible thing, and these pictures and videos are going around the Middle East, and now around the West,” Murphy says.
But the circulation of these images and videos is generating prayer. Pray for the protection and encouragement of the Algerian Church. Pray for their ability to meet and worship, too. And pray for God’s Word to impact and transform the people in Algeria.
“God’s going to use it to spread the Gospel. That’s always the result of persecution. So, in the end, it’s difficult, but God turns it to good.”
Header photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash.