Angola is planning to close down “illegal” churches starting November, nearly a month after the state made public legislation to regulate religious activity, online newspaper Jornal de Angola has reported.
“Religious denominations that are illegal in Angola will be closed starting in November, the national director for religious issues at the Ministry of Culture, Francisco de Castro Maria, said,” the website reported.
The move is expected to impact foreign-led churches in Angola, as “Mr Castro Maria affirmed that 50% of the churches in the country are established by foreigners from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Brazil, Nigeria and Senegal”.
Defending the plan, Culture Minister Carolina Cerqueira said that while the government was neutral, it was forced to act against unregistered bodies which “exercise commercial activities or which are a threat to human rights and against the principals of urban life and positive coexistence”.
More than 1,000 churches are waiting to pass the legal process, with the government giving unregistered denominations a month after the 4 October publication to regularise their status.
However, the discussion has been in the pipeline since as early as 28 August, when the council of ministers passed proposed legislation on freedom of religion, faith and worship to establish more rigorous conditions for the legalisation of religious activities in the country.