Will Saudi Arabia finally allow a church on its soil?
For centuries, practicing Christianity has been forbidden in the Saudi kingdom. Leaving Islam is punishable by death. So, are reports true that things are changing?
The existence of that church has been an irritation to the Saudis. In 2012, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia declared that all churches in the Arabian Peninsula must be destroyed.
“Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah made the controversial statement in a response to a question from a Kuwaiti delegation,” reported the Russian news agency Novosti. “The Grand Mufti, who is the highest official of religious law in Saudi Arabia, as well as the head of the Supreme Council of Islamic Scholars, cited the Prophet Mohammed, who said the Arabian Peninsula is to exist under only one religion.
“The Sheikh went on to conclude that it was therefore necessary for Kuwait, being a part of the Arabian Peninsula, to destroy all churches on its territory.”
Ironically, the oldest church building in the world, the 4th century Jubail Church is located in Jubail, northern Saudi Arabia. “It was
discovered in 1986,” reports the website Above Top Secret. “The government hides it from locals and bans foreigners from visiting it, even archaeologists. It is an ancient Assyrian church possibly of the Nabatean culture.
“In 1986, people on a desert picnic discovered the ruins of a church near the city of Jubail, Saudi Arabia, while digging one of their trucks out of the sand. The church is believed to have been built prior to A.D. 400, making it older than most churches in Europe. It was likely associated with one of five bishoprics existing on the shores of the Arabian Sea during the term of Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople and founder of the heresy that bears his name.
“Anyone familiar with contemporary Latin and Eastern Rite Catholic church buildings will recognize the basic design. The foundation marks for roof support columns in the main room easily identify it as the nave of a church. Probably, the roof was a thatch of palm branches supported by risers and crossbeams about a foot above the walls for sunlight and ventilation. The congregation would have entered through the main doorway at the west side of the nave and assembled, women standing to the right and men to the left, facing east toward the sanctuary (the middle of the three smaller chambers”) where the altar would have been.