Saudi Arabia is one of the most rigid and hardline states in the world, though in recent months, with the handing over of power to the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, there appear to have been a slight softening of attitudes in some areas.
In spite of this, the only religion permitted in Saudi Arabia is Wahhabism, a particularly strict regime of Sunni Islam and there is no provision for any religious freedom in the country.
The Police have a special section dedicated to ensuring this rule is kept. The feared Religious Police who ruthlessly enforce restrictions on behaviour.
Muslims who become Christians there are officially punishable by death.
The legal system is based on the governments strict interpretation of Sharia Law.
There is no separation of state and religion, and all citizens MUST be Muslim.
Expatriate Christians from all over the world, many working in construction and service industries, make up the majority of the Christian population, but they are severely restricted in their ability to gather for worship, or share their faith with Muslims. Doing either can lead to arrest, imprisonment, abuse or even deportation.
Christians and Jews are tolerated, as second-rate citizens, but no non-muslim places of worship are allowed. Consequently those who wish to worship together do so in their own homes. But even these gentle and very small gatherings are open to being raided by the Religious Police and being broken up.
The new Crown Prince has recently been on a tour of world leaders, including the Coptic Pope in Egypt, and has promised to promote a more moderate style of Islam. Whether this will actually lead to anything concrete remains to be seen.
● Pray that the strict form of Islam promoted by the Saudi government will be loosened, and that the authorities will allow greater religious freedom.
● Pray for our brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia, that they will be filled with God’s peace during this time of change.Pray that God will reveal himself to Mohammed bin Salman, and give him wisdom to make the right decisions in governing the country.
● Pray for women in Saudi Arabia who are regarded as second class citizens, and have few rights, that following their being allowed to drive, more restrictions will be eased.
● As Saudi seeks to spread its very strict ideology across the region and to other parts of the world, pray that it will not succeed.
● Pray Gods blessing and protection on the internet and phone outreaches to Muslims here and to those in other regions of the world, that many will come to know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.