Religious persecution continues in Eritrea.

By October 1, 2004

Eritrea (MNN)–Catholics, Lutherans, Muslims and members of the Orthodox church are free to practice their faiths in Eritrea.

However, evangelical Christians are a part of a small religious minority that is being ruthlessly suppressed. In 2002, the Eritrean government introduced a registration system for religions. The requirements forced groups to submit information about themselves in order to be allowed to worship.

That brought about a rising backlash, similar to that experienced by the underground church in China. Efforts to squash meetings, and discourage evangelism became more and more harsh.

That came to the attention of the U-S State Department, which issued a report taking Eritrea and others to task over religious freedom.

Voice of the Martyrs’ Todd Nettleton says the Eritrean government is protesting, pointing to all the open churches. “‘All these groups are meeting every week, we’re not bothering them, therefore we have religious freedom.'”

Nettleton says, in theory, that’s true. “But, the reality is those 400 Christians are still in prison. There are still no evangelical churches allowed to operate openly.”

The International Religious Freedom Report for 2004 said the Eritrean government’s “poor respect for religious freedom for minority religious groups” had continued to decline.

All evangelical churches have been shut down. VOM has workers going in to encourage the church, but, “It’s very difficult for any foreigner to go and visit and meet with Christians. We have some different things going on that really, we don’t talk about very much to try to stand with our brothers and sisters there who are suffering. But, it is difficult.”

Continue to pray for those involved in outreach in Eritrea.

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