Three Church Buildings Torched in Tanzania

Frightened congregations without places to worship.

Typical village dwelling in Tanzania. (Christian Aid Mission)

Typical village dwelling in Tanzania. (Christian Aid Mission)

NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – Three church buildings were set ablaze on Tuesday (Sept. 22) in an area of northwestern Tanzania where Muslim extremists have issued threats, pastors said.

A pastor of one of the three churches whose buildings were gutted, Vedasto Athanas of Living Water International church, said area Christians are worried and frightened as such attacks have increased each of the past few years.

“What is worrying us is that the burning of the three churches happened within a span of two hours,” he told Morning Star News. “What is even more worrying is that we have been receiving threats from Muslim extremists that they want churches reduced in this area.”

Also burned were the buildings of the Pentecostal Assemblies of God and the Evangelical Assemblies of God; all three churches are located in the Kashfa village area of Bukoba District, church leaders said.

Living Waters’ congregation numbers about 350, the Pentecostal Assemblies of God  has 300 members and the Evangelical Assemblies of God Tanzania has 200.

“We have lost everything in our churches – the buildings, the chairs and musical instruments,” Athanas said. “Our members have nowhere to worship.”

One point of contention, according to church leaders, has to do with animal slaughter. Muslim extremists in the area have objected to Christians slaughtering animals, an act they consider forbidden for non-Muslims.

Kagera Region is known as an area where traditional animist and spiritist practices include ritual execution and removal of human organs. The shamans who lead them have blocked the spread of Christianity, and they instill fear as they kill boys to remove their sexual organs for their religious rituals, but they are not suspected in the church burnings, a source said.

Another church leader, who requested anonymity, said authorities have refused to grant local churches permission to construct worship centers on the pretext that lands are designated only as residential areas.

“We do request for prayers at this difficult moment,” Athanas said.

Tanzania’s Muslims, 31 percent of the total population, are largely tolerant but have become increasingly polarized between moderates and extremists, according to Operation World. Christians make up 54 percent of the country’s population.

In eastern Tanzania in Tanga Region, a church building in Mashewa, Muheza District was set fire on Jan. 20. In the same district in Zirai, a predominantly Muslim area, a young woman who had left Islam and married a Christian was beaten and badly burned by her parents on Nov. 2, 2014.

In October 2012, Islamists burned several church buildings in various parts of Tanzania after two children’s argument about the Koran resulted in a Christian boy allegedly defiling Islam’s sacred book.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit https://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that that can orient you on how to get involved.  

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at https://morningstarnews.org/donate/?   

###

 © 2015 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News. 

Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription or to make tax-deductible donations, contact editor@morningstarnews.org, or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.

Speak Your Mind

*