Church leaders won’t release information

By November 17, 2009

Kyrgyzstan (MNN) — By law, unregistered religious activity
in Kyrgyzstan is prohibited. But according to Forum 18 News, governmental
"roadblocks" have stopped religious communities from gaining legal
status. To protest these unfair
restrictions and protect their congregations, evangelical churches in
Kyrgyzstan are refusing to register with the government.

"To register our many un-registered congregations, we
need to give the names and personal data of 200 members as founders–"
Aleksandr Shumilin of the Baptist Union told Forum 18 earlier this month,
"which we will not do."

Previously, information about ten church members was required
by law to register a church. Kyrgyzstan's new law, passed in January, requires
each group to register with the state and to release information about 200 of
their church members. This makes it impossible for smaller churches to gather
legally.

"If the requirements of the New Law were feasible, we
should have no problems re-registering," said Bishop Eicholz to Forum 18.
"But for instance, notarizing 200 signatures of church members and giving
their personal data to the State Commission is not feasible." 

Under this new law, unregistered religious activity has
serious penalties; along with being banned, activity is also subject to
prosecution. According to Forum 18, communities of Protestant Christians and
other religious minorities have been ordered to stop meeting for worship.
Despite these communities' inability to obtain legal status, two mosques have
been registered.

According to Voice of the Martyrs USA, Kyrgyzstan
officials have stated they will close churches in order to pacify Muslim
majorities. Christians in some villages face physical violence and eviction
from ethnic Muslims.

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