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ICC NOTE: Belgium in the late 1990’s came up with lists that described various religious sects as dangerous, or sects that they were watching closely. This story is an example of the government invading Christians from worshipping freely.

Belgian Police Raid African Pentecostal Church During Service

Institute Troubled by On-going Government Bias Against Religious Minorities in Belgium

WASHINGTON, May 30 /Christian Newswire/ — Fifteen Belgian police officers stormed into an African Pentecostal Church interrupting the service. Church members present were interrogated and photographed by the officers who entered without permission of church officials, witnesses stated.

Minister of Justice, Laurette Onkelinx, has received harsh criticism from religious institutions, human rights and religious freedom organizations, and foreign governments for the disruption of the church service, which is forbidden under Belgian law. Onkelinx explained the church raid was a necessary step in a penal investigation of a rape in the neighborhood of the church grounds.

The African Pentecostal Church , a member of the Federal Synod of Protestant and Evangelical Churches , is comprised of a predominantly immigrant population. Some witnesses and Belgian Parliamentarians cited this as the cause for the raid. In recent years numerous small African churches have opened across Brussels . The changing demographic has caused racial strife to rise.

This altercation with the African Pentecostal Church is the latest in an all too common pattern of unfortunate and inappropriate treatment of faith groups by the Belgian Government. The Parliament of Belgium in 1996 established a special Commission to examine the potential dangers that “sects” may present to society and to recommend policies to deal with those dangers. For the full story…