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
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
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.