New Bill Restricting Religious Freedom Passed into Law in Russia.
On 30th June this year, we asked you to pray for Russia and the Russian government as it was proposing new, very strict laws regarding religious freedom in the country.
In that entry, we reported that President Vladimir Putin had until 20th July to decide whether to enact this proposed, anti-terror bill into law. However, the law, which is primarily aimed at anti-terrorist activities but includes many clauses that are strongly anti-Christian, was signed into law by President Putin on Sunday 3rd July.
Protestant Christians in Russia fear that the new law will be chiefly enforced as a weapon against them and not used against the Orthodox Church, which Mr Putin has strongly favoured in the past.
The new law will require any sharing of the Christian faith, even a casual conversation, to have prior authorisation from the state. This includes something as basic as an emailed invitation for a friend to attend church.
in addition, even in a private home, worship and prayer will only be allowed if there are no unbelievers present.
Churches will also be held accountable for the activities of their members. So if, for example, a church member mentions their faith in conversation with a work colleague, not only the church member but also the church itself could be punished, with individuals facing fines of up to 50,000 roubles (£580; USD770; €700).
There are also restrictions on the extent to which churches can have contact with foreigners; for example, any non-Russian citizen attending a church service would be required to have a work visa or face a fine and expulsion from Russia.
- Pray for the Church in Russia in the light of the passing of this new law. Pray for wisdom as they seek the way forward in the light of these restrictions, and that they will not lose heart as they face this opposition.
- Pray for the church in Russia to grow and reach out across this nation, despite the new restrictions.
- Pray for the surrounding Central Asian states, where the Church is already severely restricted. Pray that they will resist pressure from the Russian government to bring in similar, so called “anti-terrorism” laws that will further oppress Christians in this region.
- Pray for a move of the Holy Spirit across Russia and Central Asia, for many to hear the Gospel and come to faith in Christ.
Romans 8 vs 38 – 39: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.“