Kazakhstan laws carry heavy ramifications for ministry.

By August 29, 2005

Kazakhstan (MNN)–Mixed reaction continues to come out of Kazakhstan over enforcement of a new religion law, signed on 8 July by President Nursultan Nazarbaev.

Many believe the so-called ‘national security’ law contradicts itself within the framework of the country’s constitution. There are also concerns over amendments, one of which makes formal registration mandatory, and one which is read to mean only judicial registration is acceptable.

Mission groups are concerned because the legislation is still so broad that it allows religious groups to be punished for almost any alleged offence.

But there’s another issue, says Bible Mission International’s Malcolm Smith. “When one country passes a law, usually there’s a cookie cutter approach in the other Republics that very soon comes to be, that will affect our work on a wholesale basis across the whole Central Asian region.”

He goes on to say that the law has had greater effect on westerners involved with outreach. Since the law passed, many have been questioned, and many have already begun sending their families home.

The concern then is how the law changes the scenario for indigenous work. “It’s going to take a little more time, it’s going to take a little more energy for us to go and appease the local officials and go through the process that they ask us to and jump through the hoops. But, you know, in the long-run, it’s going to make us work a little smarter, and we’re going to build some new relationships.”

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