Zimbabwe riot police stormed an Anglican service this week, swinging batons to clear the pews, even striking a grandmother who bent to retrieve a fallen Bible. It wasn’t the first time, the New York Times reports. For three straight Sundays, Zimbabwe’s rulers have sent police to break up services, an escalation of its violent voter intimidation campaign and part of a greater fight over who will control the nation's churches.
Only the churches of renegade bishop Nolbert Kunonga have been spared. Kunonga is a staunch ruling party ally who once called Robert Mugabe “a prophet of God" and has been rewarded with a sprawling estate. Zimbabwe’s other churches profess political neutrality. “As a theologian who has read a lot about the persecution of the early Christians, I’m really feeling connected to that history,” said one bishop. “We are being persecuted.”