Religious freedom briefing tomorrow in Washington

By February 5, 2013

USA (MNN) — U.S. representatives, ministries, and other Christian leaders are gathering in Washington, DC tomorrow. Russian Ministries and some of their key partners are hosting a briefing on religious freedom in the former Soviet Union.

Russian Ministries project manager Wade Kusack says, "We would like to understand and analyze what is going on. Why is religious freedom so dramatically shrinking in that territory"

Tomorrow, February 6, at 11:00AM at the Rayburn House office building, experts will tell what they know. Kusack says Uzbekistan may be the worst violator, turning the clocks back 50 years on religious freedom. "They penalize people for just having a Bible in their homes. The court ordered them to burn Bibles. Short or long prison terms [are part of] everyday life for Christians in Uzbekistan."

That's not the only country. "Azerbaijan and Russia are also challenging areas. Russia did something very strange to the religious minorities: they gave priority to just three religions–Orthodox, Islam, and Judaism. All other religions are basically out of the law."

Kusack says it was evidenced by the government's treatment of minorities. "There was a destruction of a church in Moscow and persecution of rehabilitation centers. 17 centers were persecuted last year in [Russia]."

Once the briefing is completed, says Kusack, "We will decide what we can do to promote religious freedom in those countries, in order to stop religious separation and, even in some cases, persecution of Christians in the former Soviet Union."

The hope is that something more comes out of it. "We believe we will be able to adopt a policy, and we will act in the future, based on this policy," says Kusack. "I believe this policy will be reasonable, understandable, and effective. We are looking for an effective way to promote religious freedom."

More than 70 leaders are expected to attend the briefing, including members of congress, the U.S. State Department, human rights organizations, and members of the media.

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