Kazakhstan religion law stiffened; a ministry studies impact

By November 25, 2008

Kazakhstan (MNN) — Kazakhstan's
Parliament is discussing the new amendments to the religion law this week. The measures are causing great concern for
mission groups, especially those who provide children's Christmas programs,
like Slavic Gospel Association.

SGA's Joel Griffith says the
harsher law prohibits children from participating in religious gatherings
without permission from both parents, and it bans the distribution of religious
materials in public places. The
allowance is distribution in permanent buildings designated by the state. 

The Senate also removed judges'
discretion over the level of fines imposed for violating the Religion Law. It could be trouble for next year's "Immanuel's
Child" and "Christmas for Orphans" programs. "If that law actually does clear all hurdles and is signed into law
by Kazakhstan's president, obviously, there is some potential impact."

Forum 18 reports the Majilis were
set to discuss the Senate changes on the same day as a roundtable with
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) experts was
scheduled to begin.

Pray, because while the draft is
not officially a law yet, the likelihood is that it will pass. Griffith explains, "We've seen a general
trend for the past couple of years with former Soviet countries tightening up
their restrictions on religious observance, especially in countries that have a
Muslim majority. So I think it is
probably fairly realistic, unless the Lord intervenes, that we could continue
to see these kinds of restrictions take place."

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