Belarus finds more tensions between recognized religions and faith

By November 16, 2009

Belarus (MNN) — Police in Belarus have been scrutinizing
religious activity from a house church in Minsk.

According to Forum 18, local police were sent to question a family about
their religious faith.

Authorities said the Culture Department of Minsk City Executive
Committee wanted to find out whether a church was active there or not. Forum 18 quotes the Deputy Chief of
Minsk's Frunze District Police Dinas Linkus as saying, "We have Orthodox,
Catholics and Muslims: these are the religions. All the others are
sects."

Do those remarks cause concern for ministries? Joel Griffith with Slavic Gospel Association
says, "Evangelical churches tend to be viewed with some
suspicion."  

That's a contrast against the backdrop of November 2002, when
a new religion law went into effect. Voice of the Martyrs Canada noted that despite
constitutional guarantees that "all religions and faiths shall be equal
before the law," the law stipulates that all unregistered religious
activity, communities with fewer than 20 members, and any religious activity in
private homes (apart from occasional, small-scale meetings) are considered
illegal.

Religious communities that do not have a registered umbrella
body are not able to invite foreign citizens for religious work, and all
religious literature is subject to censorship. Registration is often a
difficult process, and many organizations, including some with thousands of
members, have been unable to register.

Scrutiny this detailed comes with relentless pressure from
the government, often including arrests, false charges and large fines. Griffith explains, "They [evangelical Christians] have to battle false
rumors like this all the time that get spread around by various people. It
definitely is a concern, but I also want to praise the Lord for the progress
that's been made in spite of some of the opposition." 

The church is growing, and SGA teams will continue working. Please hold them up in prayer. "It is 
a matter of concern, especially if it's going to signal any type of
further crackdowns or further repression on evangelical churches. Evangelical
churches have a difficult time, as it is, in Belarus right now."

 

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