10 January 2019

Angola: Authorities Shut Down Over 900 Religious Denominations

Luanda — The Angolan authorities have shut down over 900 illegal religious denominations countrywide, a measure also prompted by the fact that many of them had practices that harmed human rights and dignity.

The information was given last Wednesday, in Luanda, by Culture minister Carolina Cerqueira at the specialised commission of the National Assembly (Parliament) that has been analysing the Bill on Freedom of Religion, Belief and Worship.

Carolina Cerqueira informed that the government will continue to root out from society those religious denominations that undermine the dignity of believers and adopt a purely commercial posture, thus challenging or ignoring the principles of the Angolan state.

She went on to say that it is paramount to control the proliferation of religious sects countrywide, including the fact that many of them conduct their religious services in inadequate places, among other bad practices.

Carolina Cerqueira disclosed also that her ministerial department has consulted several sections of the Angolan society and has come to the conclusion that many groups have been concealing criminal practices under the guise of religion, so there is an urgent need to tackle such situations.

She seized the occasion to commend the contributions made by the MPs to the new legal tool, yet to be approved by the National Assembly, despite the fact that some opposition MPs do not agree with some aspects of it, such as the need for 60,000 signatures for a religious group to have its congregation legalised.

"(... ) the religious activity in the country must take place in conformity with the legal procedures and in line with the Constitution and the law (...)", emphasised the Culture minister.

Currently, Angola has 81 legal religious denominations, while the number of the not recognised ones (but registered with the National Institute for Religious Matters "INAR") is of about1,106.

The authorities estimate that the country has over 2000 unrecognised religious denominations.

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