From Barnabas Fund:
KAZAKHSTAN - PRESSURE ON CHRISTIAN GROUPS UNDER NEW RELIGIOUS LAWS
Churches and Christians are coming under increasing pressure as the authorities in Kazakhstan enforce new laws intended further to restrict religious freedom in the country.
Hundreds of small religious groups have recently been stripped of their registration as a senior religious affairs official says that their activity is “now banned” under new rules. A number of churches from a range of Christian denominations, including Baptist, Presbyterian and Seventh-day Adventist, are among the 579 religious groups that have been deregistered. A religious group must now have at least 50 adult members to be registered, and leaders of small churches have received official warnings to stop their activity and hand back their registration certificates. For many it will not be possible to collect the 50 signatures required, because they do not have sufficient members or at least not enough willing to give their personal details to the authorities.
In addition, churches have been raided, leaders fined and Christian literature confiscated in recent months. In just one example from February 2011, Aleksei Asetov, a father of ten, was fined 485,400 Tenge (£2,060; US$3,300; €2,440) – an estimated average local wage for 18 months – for leading a small unregistered church that meets in his home in Ekibastuz in Pavlodar Region. Aleksei is the fourth Christian known to have been fined since the harsh new Religion Law and changes to another associated law came into force in October 2011.
- Ask that the Lord will overrule where congregations have had their groups de-registered or their churches raided, and pray for church leaders who find themselves under scrutiny or facing heavy fines. Pray that the Lord will meet their needs.
- Pray that the Kazakhstan authorities will cease to implement the new Religion Law so strictly and that greater freedom of religion will be granted in this country.