More severe law still in Parliament in Kazakhstan

By November 21, 2008

Kazakhstan (MNN) — Kazakhstan's draft religion law has been amended yet again with further restrictions. 

The amendments to the law include mandating a fixed fine of 50 times the minimum monthly salary for those found guilty of worshipping, building or opening places of worship, or publishing or distributing religious literature without government permission.

The proposed amendment would also require both parents to give permission before a child can attend a religious event and would ban believers from expressing their faith beyond their "own circle."

According to Forum 18 reports, the draft law already contains many restrictions, including only allowing religious literature distribution in permanent buildings designated by the state. That has the potential of endangering religious-based charitable activites.

Adele Konyndyk with Voice of the Martyrs Canada says because the language is non-specific, "There's always fear as to how the government might use this to decrease Christian activity." 

Although the constitution guarantees freedom of religion, the government is keeping an ever-watchful eye on evangelistic work. "These proposed changes are due to be discussed by the Senate on November 24, and also a round table discussion with international experts will happen on that day. But even the fact that officials are refusing to make the draft text public does indicate something about the severity of the changes."

Konyndyk says that even though the amendments have made it as far as the Senate, believers have recourse. "Pray that it won't be passed, that the Lord will work in the hearts of the officials who are considering this law, that they will recognize that it would not be just…also pray for the believers who are facing these kinds of restrictions."

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