Increase in Unregistered Churches Raise Alarm

Abdouraham Cole, permanent secretary Department of State for Interior, has expressed Government concern over the increasing number of unregistered churches in the country.

Mr Cole was speaking recently at the Gambia Government - church leaders meeting held at the Friendship Hotel.

He said Government is very much concern after receiving series of complaints from the public over what he described as "unnoticed increase in the number of churches in the country." "Every church waiting to be established in The Gambia should be registered with The Gambia Christian Council as agreed on by cabinet in 1995. But Government has now realised that churches are being established without registration with the Gambia Christian Council," he said.

He added: "Because of such unwarranted operations, more reports have been received from the public that some churches operate at night thereby disturbing those living around their areas." Mr Cole mentioned one church in Bakau that operates on a daily basis at odd hours, as an example.

"The other Government concern," he reiterated, "is that some churches are located around mosques." He mentioned a clear example of a church in Bundung which is beside a mosque under construction. "Such may result to conflict between Muslims and Christians in that region. An incident once happened along Kairaba Avenue when some Muslim youths threw stones at Christians that were worshipping, complaining that they were being disturbed at their own prayers. It was a worrying situation for Government and we don't want such act to be repeated," he posited.

He concluded by calling on all unregistered churches to abide by the laws of the country or risk facing the full weight of the law.