Kazakhstan looks set to become the first of the ex Soviet Central Asia nations to follow Russia’s lead in bringing in harsher restrictions on religious activity.
Laws concerning legal restrictions in Kazakhstan already ban and punish certain religious activities, including free speech. However, the Minister who oversees religion has announced that further restrictions will be imposed in amendments to the Religion Law and other Laws, and these are likely to be presented to Parliament in September.
These amendments are in response to an order on 10th June, by President Nursultan Nazarbayev, to harshen laws on “extremism”, terrorism and religion.
Currently, anyone discussing religious issues with other people is required to have permission from a registered religious organisation and to have a permit from the state Regional Religious Affairs Department. Any literature they use when they speak to others also needs to be censored in advance by the Religious Affairs Department.
Anyone who speaks on religion without such permission faces punishment, usually a hefty fine.
The amendments to the Religion Law and a series of other laws that are being prepared will further restrict freedom of religion or belief.
The minister of Culture and Sport who oversees the government’s Religious Affairs Committee, said that, among other things, “missionary activity” will be subjected to controls. “Activity to spread a faith as a missionary without registration will not be allowed,” he declared.
However, as talking to others on religion is already banned unless it has been specifically authorised by the state, it remains unclear what further controls might be introduced.
- Pray for Kazakhstan and other Central Asia states, in the light of these new proposed restrictions. Pray for wisdom for the government as it discusses the restrictions, and for a relaxing of these laws, rather than a continued tightening of them.
- Pray for Christians in Kazakhstan as they face these harsh restrictions on top of already strict limits on their freedom. Pray for endurance and perseverance in their faith, and for courage to share the Gospel with friends and family.
- Pray for the Church in Kazakhstan, for unity, strength, access to good discipleship and training material and for opportunities to meet and pray together for their country and government.
- Pray for the ongoing flow on effects of the new legislation in Russia, which is likely to continue to have a n impact across Central Asia too. Pray that the light of the Gospel will overcome and the Church will continue to grow in this region.
1 Timothy 2 vs 1 – 2: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.“
Source: http://www.forum18.org, http://www.persecution.org