Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Kazakhstan religion law stiffened, to Christians' dismay

Kazakhstan-Kazakhstan is looking at tightening already draconian restrictions on its controversial religion law.Joel Griffith with Slavic Gospel Association says there have been some new amendments this week that are being debated in the Kazakh Senate. "It would, for the first time, explicitly ban unregistered religious activity. It would ban sharing beliefs by individuals not named by registered religious organizations, or without personal registration as missionaries. It would require all registration applications to be approved centrally, and it would pose a wider range of fines on individuals and communities."In short, the proposal calls for tighter registration requirements for all religious groups, a smaller number of religious communities and increased penalties for members of unregistered communities. Under the current draft, repeat "offenses" would lead to a religious community being banned.Although Kazakhstan's constitution guaranteed freedom of religion in early 2002, the Parliament's action has moved a different direction. That has also gotten the attention of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). The country is being closely monitored by the commission for its violation of religious liberty.According to Forum 18, several legal specialists in Kazakhstan believe the provisions and amendments of the draft Law allow for broad interpretations which could be used to restrict religious freedom.Griffith urges prayer. "Pray for the protection of Kazakh churches, not only their freedom to worship, but also to proclaim the Gospel. We trust that they're going to do what the Lord has called them to do anyway, but it's certainly going to make life a lot more difficult for the believers there."
--Pray that believers will be a bold witness to the Gospel.
--Pray that authorities will cease their harassment of unregistered church communities.
--Pray that the amendments fail.
As in the days of Noah...

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