Kazakhstan (MNN) — Some Baptist believers in Kazakhstan are being kicked out of their homes.
People found praying or worshipping in their homes without registering with the government are fined. When the Baptist Council of Churches refuses to pay as a matter of principle, their homes are taken to pay the fine instead.
According to reports, the senior religious affairs official in Kazakhstan, Yeraly Tugzhanov, said, "No one is being persecuted for their faith. Let them pray. But the law on religion requires them to register. No one has a problem with that."
While the government recognizes freedom of religion, the people whose homes have been seized are those who refuse to register. Baptists in the country believe the court executor has gone beyond his authority since a previous court ruling stated that prayer meetings would be halted–not that homes would be confiscated.
Once a house has been sealed by the government, it is no longer accessible to the owner. A woman and her young child have been left homeless because they held prayer meetings. Also, a man and his wife and 12 children were told that the government would sell half of his home after finding that he held a Sunday service.
Government officials have not stopped at homes, however. They have also taken cars, washing machines and pigs to cover the fines. Some church members have even had their wages cut. Baptists in the country are calling this an "economic war."
Registration can be difficult for Protestant groups in small town–especially in towns lead by Kazakh nationals.