The government of Rwanda made a surprise appearance at a local church and ordered the Clergy to close the structure while a wedding was ongoing. The couple and all the guests were simply told to leave the church during the service, according to World Watch Monitor.
The News Agency reports that efforts are still ongoing by the Rwanda Governance Board to close churches it says fail to meet requirements laid down at the beginning of the year.
That aside, as the new policy bites hard, another church was stopped from having services and other meetings (such as home groups) in a school hall as an alternative after all the churches in that parish had been closed.
“The Church had timber instead of a metal door and window frames, and was told the roof also needed to be elevated just a little,” World Watch Monitor said.
The law critics deem “unfair” to religious groups, especially Pentecostal Churches, is being enforced even though it has not yet been approved officially.
In most cases it is almost impossible for churches to make the required changes within the given timeframe of 15 days, World Watch Monitor reported.
There is a high level of fear among church leaders. Shortly after the new requirements began to be implemented, officials arrested six pastors accused of plotting to defy the government orders. Although the pastors have since been released, a senior church leader explained that the arrest served as a stern warning to others to not resist the move.
According to World Watch Monitor, on paper, the same restrictions against Christian Churches apply to Muslims, but in practice this is not the case. Muslim clerics indicated that they would appeal the decision outlawing the calling of worshipers to prayer over loudspeakers. For now, the practice continues.
According to a report by Rwanda’s pro-government KT Press, more than 8,000 churches have now been closed, and the number keeps growing.
“On checking which churches were included, we learned that all churches are suffering the same fate, and that even churches considered luxurious for local standards have had to close,” a local analyst, who wished to remain anonymous, told World Watch Monitor.
Believers are now moving long distances (close to 20km) to attend church in a neighboring community after their church was closed.