Kazakhstan’s proposed religion law is already being enforced

By June 10, 2005

Kazakhstan (MNN) — It’s unclear when Kazakhstan’s new Freedom of Religion Act will go into effect, but evangelical mission leaders are concerned.

While the bill has yet to receive final approval from the Upper Parliament, Send International’s General Director Warren Janzen says many local leaders are already taking action. “There are some local officials within Kazakhstan who are already acting on that law as if it has been approved and are enforcing it. We have reports of one pastor of an unregistered church being arrested and one registered church in Almaty (EL-muh-TEE) which was forced to close because of potential violations of this act.”

While that’s an obvious concern, Janzen is also concerned if the bill passes. “That could limit our ability to do church planting and work in Kazakhstan. We could possibly see some persecution, we could see some restriction for new visas and missionaries going into Kazakhstan. And the people we have in place already may be either dramatically restricted what we can do or even forced out of the country.”

It’s uncertain how the proposed law will effect their plan to send Ukrainian missionaries into the region to share the Gospel. Janzen says, “It may be a situation where we will have to turn things over much more quickly than we had initially prepared for.”

Janzen is asking people to pray that local authorities will stop enforcing the law before it goes into effect and that God would prevent the bill from passing. There’s no word on when the Upper Parliament will vote on it.

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