Religion law in Turkmenistan stalls

By February 19, 2010

Turkmenistan (MNN) — Although the Turkmen government
announced plans to revise the Religion
Law, work on a draft hasn't begun. 

The two-year delay means a status quo, says Joel Griffith with Slavic Gospel
Association.

"Until something new comes out, they still have basically what's in
the law right now. Even though there is
freedom of religion that's listed officially, in practice it proves to be a
much different thing."

That's not
particularly good news. There's still a
ban on unregistered religious activity.
Because  it is nearly impossible
for faith communities to receive state registration, many churches remain unregistered. 

Griffith says the government uses non-registration as
an excuse to go after Christians for breaking the law. As a result, believers face continuing raids,
pressure and interference by the government.

Griffith cites Forum 18 News when taking note of the fact that
believers are on the country's exit blacklist, and he says other restrictions on
the church include being denied
permission to invite foreigners for religious purposes.

Though the proposed new law was a priority in 2008, human
rights issues may have played a role in the delay. For the existing church, Griffith says, "We
need to lift our brothers and sisters in Christ up in prayer in those
countries, and continue to hold up the ideals of being able to worship and
proclaim the Gospel freely." 

Griffith says the legislation has been pending for some
time. Watchdog groups are concerned, with good reason, again citing Forum 18
News: "This government official allegedly said that, 'Even if this
new law was to be developed and passed'–this is a direct quote–'Nothing good
for you will come from the new religion law.'" 

Uzbekistan ranks 10th on the Open Doors World
Watch List. The list is a detailed analysis of
Christian persecution worldwide. Pray
that the truth of the Gospel will permeate the nation.



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