[Christianity Today] 12 Aug 2008--The debate was urgent and often heated at the annual meeting of the Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA) in May. The looming decision: whether to obey government orders that have closed more than half of the North African country's 50 Protestant churches in the last six months.
Algerian pastors argued the merits of reopening all their churches in a unified protest. But this idea failed to win support, and EPA leadership ultimately elected to leave the decision in the hands of each congregation.
Most of the closures stem from enforcement of Ordinance 06-03, a law restricting non-Muslims from worshiping. The law passed in February 2006, but Algerian officials did not enforce it until this year. In addition to closing churches, authorities have arrested Protestants in western Algeria as they have traveled between cities or exited religious meetings. Authorities have also barred Catholics from ministry outside their church walls.