The government of Rwanda has shut down 714 churches for failing to meet the minimum building requirements. Most of the churches were small Pentecostal churches and a mosque was also closed, according to BBC.

Pentecostal churches are gaining popularity in Rwanda. Charismatic preachers run the churches and they claim that they are able to perform miracles which attracts many followers.

Authorities revealed that the churches were closed since they lack the basic facilities to ensure the safety of their congregants.

Anastase Shyaka, Chief Executive of RGB, said, “It is about honoring God. It means that if we are Christians where we worship must meet standards showing respect for God. Standards that reflect the importance of God in our lives.”

Many of the churches were built without planning permission and some were just tiny structures or tents that were not sufficient in accommodating thousands of worshipers. Other churches lack toilets, parking lots, and safety and security installations.

Noise pollution was also an issue with the churches. Leaders often use loud public address systems to invite more people into church which also disturb nearby residents.

The Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) defended the move to close down the substandard churches.

“Churches that are hosted in tents were also asked to review their premises before they can continue with their operations. As for hygiene and sanitation, you cannot have a gathering where there is no water for washing hands, no toilets among other issues,” a government official said.

Anastase Shyaka, Chief Executive of RGB, said, “It is about honoring God. It means that if we are Christians where we worship must meet standards showing respect for God. Standards that reflect the importance of God in our lives.”

He added that to operate a church, the safety of worshipers must be a priority and fellowship should be done in a way which wouldn’t inconvenience other people living close to the churches, reports African news website AllAfrica.

Shyaka revealed that churches are sprouting in Rwanda like mushrooms because of internal conflicts. Members who disagree with other members leave the church and start their own faith-based organizations.

To curb the rapid growth of substandard church buildings in Rwanda, a new law was proposed to require all preachers to have theological training before opening a church.

Sources:
BBC
AllAfrica

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Joyce has more than 15 years experience writing news, industry articles and blogs for the private and public sectors. Most of her career was spent writing technical documentation for a software company in the Philippines. She earned a B.A. in Communication Arts with a concentration in writing from the University of the Philippines, Los Baños. During her leisure time, Joyce pursues her interest reading fiction and playing with her dogs. She can be contacted at Joyce@onechristianvoice.com.