Kazakhstan declared independence after the Soviet empire collapsed in 1991. Although a multiparty democracy, the only president since 1991 has continued his authoritarian rule and presided over recognizably tainted elections.
Under Communism, all religion was suppressed. Kazakhstan’s constitution has provided freedom of religion since 2002, but a proposed law would have required churches and religious organizations to register with the government. The law was declared unconstitutional in February 2009, but the president has proposed further amendments to help the law pass. Authorities consistently act as though registration is already required, despite the fact that the law has not yet been passed.
Traditional Islam is on the rise. Several Muslim countries (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan) invest huge amounts of money to send Muslim missionaries to Kazakhstan—some are effective even in converting Russians to Islam. The number of registered mosques grew from 46 in 1989 to 1,282 in 2002 (quite apart from many unregistered ones).
Increased Islamist agitation has caused the government to consider increasingly oppressive religion laws. These laws subsequently have an effect on the newer and more active Christian denominations and can be used to limit, restrict and even persecute Christians. Orthodox Christianity is perceived as the religion of Russians, and evangelicals are often regarded as dangerous sects.
- Pray that authorities will cease their harassment of unregistered church communities. Until then, pray believers will effectively minister the gospel despite opposition.
- Pray for endurance for those believers facing these challenges.
- Pray for the adage “To be a Kazakh is to be a Muslim” to be broken; pray for freedom from historic spiritual bondages and prejudices.