The Tajik government has had restrictive “Religion and Parental Responsibility Laws” in place since 2011, under which children are not to be taught religion nor be involved with religious activity. Since then, most of the activity in implementing this law has been targeted at Muslim groups. However, since mid 2014, the government has increasingly been targeting protestant churches, warning them not to allow children to attend their worship services.
One protestant pastor, being interviewed for Forum 18, stated that he knew of a number of protestant churches where the internal security police had attended services and, as a result, sent strong warnings to the pastors not to allow children to attend their churches. Forum 18 quoted one of these warning letters as saying that “unless the church within one month stops the violation of having children in meetings for worship, the church’s activity will be suspended for 3 months.”
Tajik churches are protesting this ban, saying that it violates both Tajikistan’s Constitution and also the International Convention on the Rights of a Child, to which Tajikistan signed up. They are appealing on the grounds of violations of human rights, and the Tajik government appears to be backing down in some cases, as it sees the church being stronger than it thought and also not wanting to have their activities made public through these appeals.
One Tajik pastor reported that, in his view, the government was targeting protestant churches as they “are active in sharing their faith and the government does not like this and wants to stop to it.”
- Pray for Christian believers in Tajikistan, to be strong and united in the face of government opposition.
- Pray for churches to have freedom to allow children into their services and to teach them the truth of the gospel.
- Pray for the Tajik government to see the church as a positive influence on their country, not something to be feared or controlled.
Matthew 19 vs 14: Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Source: www.forum18.org, www.persecution.com