For those who are unfamiliar with the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, it is the place where Christ Jesus was crucified and buried.
The decision to close the doors came in response to new laws proposed in Jerusalem which threatened to place taxes on buildings owned by the church which were not being used for worship. The laws would have also made it more difficult for church leaders to sell the land they already owned—legislature even went as far as stating that the government would be able to reclaim land that had been owned by the church. The problem with this legislature was that some of the land which had been owned by the church had been sold to private real estate companies as well as individuals. Thousands of families built their homes or rented apartments on the land that the government threatened to take back at any given moment.
Aside from the problem of potentially having to relocate an incredible number of families, having new taxes imposed on all the buildings owned by the church was a huge problem. This new law would have placed a fine on any building, from museums to schools to libraries and more. It also didn't help that the church owed over 150 million in back taxes to the government—these new laws would have sunk the church in more debt.
Frustrated by this financial attack, the leaders of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre released a statement describing the legislature as "a systematic campaign of abuse against churches and Christians..." and closed the church doors indefinitely.
For three days, thousands of visitors gathered outside the doors and whispered prayers in support of the church but with Resurrection Sunday just around the corner, tensions began to rise and international pressure mounted as news of the closed doors circulated the globe. Thankfully, and without any violent outbursts, the Church's protest were victorious as of Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018 when the proposed legislature was suspended by Israeli government.
While I can't ignore the success of both prayers and protest, I have to wonder what the church plans to do in the future. This legislature was only suspended—that means this same issue might arise at another time down the road. What will happen then? Will church leaders simply close the doors and hope for another victory?
Things may have turned out in their favor this time, but I think this attack from the Israeli government was a wakeup call that Christians around the world should pay close attention to. This was not the first attack on a Christian foundation and it will not be the last. While I understood the anger and the irritation the church leaders felt at the news of the legislation, I must be honest and say I don't think closing the church doors was the right thing to do. I believe the church leaders should have done exactly what the visitors who were locked out for three days did: pray. Every Christian knows the importance of prayer, what better time to put their teachings to practice than when they are under fire? Closing the doors to the church obviously made a very loud statement as the church came out victorious this time, but who is to say that will work again? Making a statement to the government is one thing but I am more concerned with what is being stated about Jesus Christ—the only one who can truly protect the church.
On the other hand, were the new laws all that bad? It is obviously wrong for the government to attempt to take back property from the church, especially if it has been sold to private owners, but are the taxes such a terrible thing? Should the church have to pay fees on buildings that aren't used for worship?
I will be the first to say "No" to that question. Any building owned by the church should have the same exclusions as the church itself. However, if the church and any buildings it owns is exempt from certain taxes then why is the church facing over 100 million in back taxes? I believe there has been some irresponsibility in the leadership of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which makes it difficult to stand by their reaction to the proposed laws. Fortunately, God was on their side and Christians now have a victory under their belt. Sometimes, that's all you can ask for.
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