Churches closed, pastors arrested in Rwanda

KIGALI, Rwanda — A move by Rwanda to shut down more than 700 churches in its capital city, allegedly for building safety, hygiene and noise violations, is prompting accusations that the government of President Paul Kagame is trampling on religious freedom.

Most of the 714 shuttered sites were small Pentecostal churches, much like the ones that have multiplied across Africa in recent decades. There are more than 1,300 churches in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, a city of nearly 1.2 million people.

A Lutheran bishop said the closure order does not target any denomination but is about safety. A Rwandan development advocate said the “real reason … is fear and paranoia.” (RNS)