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Burundi Measure Seeks to Limit Churches

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The lower house of Burundi's parliament has passed a bill that seeks to curb the country's "proliferation of churches."

The Guardian notes, "A government survey last year found there were 557 denominations practicing in the small Central African state...New regulations would require churches to have at least 500 members and a proper building."

BBC News Africa says, "Evangelical churches mushroomed during and after the long ethnic-based civil war, which officially ended in 2005 after some 300,000 people had died."

The bill is not expected to face opposition in the Senate. If it passes the Senate, the president must sign it within 30 days or send it back to parliament for a second reading.

Churches would have a year to comply once the measure is signed into law. Foreign churches would be required to have at least 1,000 members.

Most of the nine million residents of Burundi are Christian. But it was noted that some smaller churches had been plagued with scandals and preachers have been accused of abuse and manipulation.

Burundi's President, Pierre Nkurunziza is a born-again Christian. His wife is an evangelical preacher.

Nkurunziza made international headlines earlier this year when he called for jogging to be banned, believing that it was being used as a cover for subversive activities. [BBC]

Burundi is located in the African Great Lakes region of Southeast Africa. The landlocked country borders, Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is one of the poorest countries in the world.

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