Religious freedom less free in Belarus

By November 22, 2005

Belarus (MNN-Forum 18) — It appears that religious freedom in Belarus may become less free.

According to a state report obtained by Forum 18 News Service gives a rare insight into state attempts to contain religious activity. It also indicates the state is upset with it’s failure to curtail the growth in the evangelical church, especially.

Vasili Marchenko, top religious affairs official in Brest region, is very upset that officials are not active enough in breaking up worship services and harassing, fining and controlling religious activity. The report aims at “repairing defects” in controlling religious activity by 1 December 2005.

Marchenko is upset that they have failed to stop Baptists from conducting two or three services a week, “freely and systematically distributing … religious literature,” and conducting “an illegal water baptism” lasting over four hours with over 300 participants.

This comes after many had suggested that Local authorities are also castigated by Marchenko for failing to stop Eastern-rite Catholic, Jehovah’s Witness, Adventist and Pentecostal activity. Forum 18 has found an apparent link between Marchenko’s report and subsequent increased action against religious communities.

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