Leader: President Berdymukhamedov
Population: 5.1 million (94,700 Christians)
Main Religion: Islam
Government: One-party state
World Watch Rank: 18
All unregistered religious activity is strictly illegal here and obtaining church registration can be difficult, if not impossible. Police and the secret services monitor Christian activities. This strict surveillance makes it difficult for churches to teach the gospel. The local authorities are hostile towards Christians; dozens of believers were detained for short periods. The printing and importing of religious literature is effectively banned. Indigenous believers face the open hostility of family and community and come are under constant pressure to recant.
About the Church
- The religious identity of Turkmen is Islamic, but many of them do not strictly adhere to it. Turkmen Christians are accused of betraying their “ancestral faith.”
- Non-registered religious activity is illegal. All religious communities need to be registered with the Council on Religious Affairs.
- The constitution provides for religious freedom, but Russian Orthodoxy is the only form of state-approved Christianity.
- There are few registered churches. The Roman Catholic Church and only a very few Protestant churches have received registration.
- Even registered religious communities face regular check-up visits. There is strict control by the government and local authorities over the Turkmen population, and all communication is being monitored.
- Turkmen Christians are often insulted and pressured by authorities, clergy, society and the local district to compel them to return to Islam.
- When unregistered places of worship are raided by the police, Bibles and Christian literature are confiscated and Christians are taken to police stations for interrogation. They are threatened, intimidated and sometimes fined.
- Many believers run the risk of losing their jobs.Their children may face expulsion from school.
- Publishing and distributing religious literature is prohibited, and its import is monitored and censored.
- There is no Christian bookshop in the country. However, more Christian radio and television programs have become available via satellite broadcast.
- The indigenous church of Turkmenistan is a very young church, but it is growing.