Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a regular tourist stop for most Christians visiting Jerusalem, has been closed for two days (from noon Sunday through Monday, so far) in protest of the Israeli government’s claim that the Church owes several million dollars in tax debt. The leaders of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer opted to close their church building to tourists on Monday in solidarity.
The government insists it is not taxing church activities, which have historically been exempt from taxes. What is in dispute is whether church properties that are commercial and not specifically for religious use should be taxed. The government says yes. The church says no. Jerusalem’s mayor claims the tax debt is 650 million shekels, which is over $186,000,000.
At the time of this writing, church officials remain uncertain how long the church will be closed to tourists.