Where Is the Church in Afghanistan?

Short answer: Where it’s always been.

More informative answer: Wherever God’s people gather.

And that’s true even after the government razes the last public meeting house.

In Afghanistan’s case, Christians might be forgiven for wondering whether political and military leaders in the United States would have pursued a decade’s worth of policies had they known this back in 2001:

There is not a single, public Christian church left in Afghanistan, according to the U.S. State Department.

This reflects the state of religious freedom in that country ten years after the United States first invaded it and overthrew its Islamist Taliban regime.

In the intervening decade, U.S. taxpayers have spent $440 billion to support Afghanistan’s new government and more than 1,700 U.S. military personnel have died serving in that country.

The last public Christian church in Afghanistan was razed in March 2010, according to the State Department’s latest International Religious Freedom Report. The report, which was released last month and covers the period of July 1, 2010 through December 31, 2010, also states that “there were no Christian schools in the country.”

[…]

“The government’s level of respect for religious freedom in law and in practice declined during the reporting period, particularly for Christian groups and individuals,” reads the State Department report.

“Negative societal opinions and suspicion of Christian activities led to targeting of Christian groups and individuals, including Muslim converts to Christianity,” said the report. “The lack of government responsiveness and protection for these groups and individuals contributed to the deterioration of religious freedom.”

Most Christians in the country refuse to “state their beliefs or gather openly to worship,” said the State Department.

[…]

The report acknowledged that Afghanistan’s post-Taliban constitution, which was ratified with the help of U.S. mediation in 2004, can be contradictory when it comes to the free exercise of religion.

While the new constitution states that Islam is the “religion of the state” and that “no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam,” it also proclaims that “followers of other religions are free to exercise their faith and perform their religious rites within the limits of the provisions of the law.”

I suspect you would find the full piece interesting: Not a Single Christian Church Left in Afghanistan, Says State Department.

I need to remember to pray — however briefly — for my fellow believers there. It surely wouldn’t take that much time and effort to at least acknowledge their plight before the Father.

Comment? Sure!

Above all, love God!
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