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article imageAfghan Christians Worship in Secret

By Bob Ewing     Mar 1, 2009 in World
Official churches don't exist, and congregants often gather in secret, using coded messages to direct them to the underground churches that move weekly.
Once punishable by death under the Taliban, converting to Christianity, is no longer a criminal offense. However it is still a highly risky choice in this conservative Muslim country.
Two short years ago, despite the new Constitution , an Afghan man was sentenced to death for converting – and was only reprieved, on grounds of insanity, after a massive international campaign. He later went into exile.
Christian groups estimate the number of Afghan Christians in the country range between 500 and 8,000 . there are over 30 million Muslims.
There are no official churches don't exist, and congregants often gather in secret, using coded messages to direct them to the underground churches that move weekly. Some quietly join groups on coalition bases.
Christian expatriates can gather freely to pray or study in Afghanistan – but are not immune from the deep-seated animosity toward the religion either. The small number of Christian aid organizations with offices in the country keep a low profile and clearly state they are focused on humanitarian, and not religious work.
In 2008, a group of 23 South Korean church volunteers were kidnapped in southern Afghanistan and two were killed before the others were released.
In October 2008,, Gayle Williams, a young woman working for Serve Afghanistan, a Britain-based Christian charity, was killed. She was walking to work through a busy intersection in Kabul. The Taliban claimed she was killed because she was proselytizing . Serve Afghanistan has refuted this claim, insisting the aid worker was running a project for disabled children
Christian expatriates can gather freely to pray or study in Afghanistan. However, the deep-seated animosity towards the religion still exists.
There are a small number of Christian aid organizations with offices in the country who keep a low profile and clearly state they are focused on humanitarian, and not religious work.
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