It was announced on Vatican Radio and in the News that a Roman Catholic priest, Fr Pierre Wallez, was convicted in an Algerian court for leading a Christian worship service in a private home. Fortunately the year long prison sentence was suspended in this case, though the priest was arrested and jailed for the ‘offence’.

In 2006, the Algerian Parliament passed an official ordinance which limited non-Muslim worship to only specific buildings approved by the state. Worship in homes and non-registered religious gatherings was specifically forbidden by the legislation.

The ordinance was drafted and passed in order to combat and outlaw an underground evangelical Christian ‘house church’ movement in Algeria which is said to have converted as many as 70,000 to Christianity in recent years.

Response: Another case of a Muslim country restricting the civil rights of Christians and other religions in their nation. Meanwhile, Muslims in Western countries seek to have super rights and laws which especially accommodate their traditions, some of which may run counter to the laws of their new country. e.g.: polygamy is allowed in Islam but not in the US or most European countries. Many Muslims seek to have their family arrangements recognized in their new country in spite of the prevailing laws.

Algeria may believe that this will stop the Christian conversions but it won’t. Just ask the Chinese who have unsuccessfully tried to stop the ‘house church’ movement. When they shut down most of the Christian churches and missions in 1950 there were only about 900,000 Christians in all of China. Then the church went underground and started meeting in private homes.

The Chinese authorities outlawed the ‘house church’ movement and continue to arrest and persecute the ‘unofficial’ church leaders to no avail. Now according to most estimates, there are well over 100 million Chinese Christians. The Truth and The Gospel march on regardless, to the tune of a higher power.

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