A church in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, has been declared unlawful and thus, will no longer receive rights as a religious institution, Arutz Sheva revealed, quoting report by Algemeiner Journal, a New York-based weekly newspaper, covering American and international Jewish and Israel-related news. This decision of the Palestinian Authority on the messianic church called the First Baptist Church, comes a week after Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told an audience of Evangelical Protestants that his government respected the rights of its Christian minorities.
The irony is that the PA’s announcement comes right after the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference, Algemeiner said. The conference that took place from March 5 through March 9, 2012 was a gathering of approximately 600 Evangelical Protestants from across the globe, the majority from the United States, to discuss the theology of Christian Zionism, which some Evangelicals believe increases the prospect of violence in the Middle East and gives support to Israeli policies that they do not like. During the opening night of the conference, Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad told the assembly that his government respected the rights of Christians. Palestinians celebrate religious holidays together, PA officials attend Christmas celebrations and even attend Midnight Mass for Christmas, Fayyad said.
The PA “said that our legitimacy as a church from a governmental point of view is not approved,” said an assistant pastor at the First Baptist Church. “They said they will not recognize any legal paper work from our church. That includes birth certificates, wedding certificates and death certificates. Children are not even considered to be legitimate if they don’t have recognized paperwork.”