According to Forum 18, seven members of a house church in Kazakhstan have been fined for meeting to worship in a building without state registration. Two of those arrested are in their late seventies.
In court hearings on 29th August, two of the believers were fined the maximum amount of 106,050 Tenge (around £232; US$309), whilst the two older members of the congregation and those with families were ordered to pay a reduced penalty. All the believers were charged with violating religious laws introduced in 2011, which require churches to obtain state permission to meet and also prohibit carrying out “missionary activity” without state registration.
As reported on 15th August (https://pray.interserve.org/new-laws-in-kazakhstan-set-to-further-restrict-religious-freedom/ ) there is concern that the introduction of amendments to existing anti-terror laws could lead to even greater restrictions on Christians’ religious freedom, as has happened already in Russia.
The suggested amendments currently being discussed in Kazakhstan’s parliament would require pre-publication censorship of all religious literature and only allow individuals to bring into the country one copy of any uncensored book about religion, in addition to expanding restrictions on Christians sharing their faith.
The 2011 law prohibiting “missionary activity” could, if the proposals are adopted, outlaw “Carrying out activity to spread a religious teaching on the territory of Kazakhstan without registration … by missionaries and other individuals.” Christians already face fines for sharing their faith in public, but the widening of the law opens up the possibility that individual believers could face prosecution for any act deemed by the authorities to constitute the spreading of religious teaching.
- Pray for believers in Kazakhstan, as they face growing opposition and hostility from the government.
- Pray for those facing prosecution and hefty fines for their faith. The fines are such that they often result in serious financial hardship for those forced to pay them.
- Pray for the Kazakh government as it discusses the proposed amendments to the religious laws. Pray that they will have wisdom and act to allow freedom of worship and belief for all people in Kazakhstan.
- Pray for a move of the Holy Spirit over this nation, that many will hear and see the Truth of the Gospel and come to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
2 Chronicles 20 vs 6: ” ‘O Lord, God of our ancestors, are you not God in heaven? Do you not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? In your hand are power and might, so that no one is able to withstand you.”
Source: https://www.barnabasfund.org/news, http://forum18.org/