Russia is tightening its grip on religious freedom

By February 24, 2006

Russia (MNN) — A new law that limits outside non-governmental organizations may now reach all religious groups in Russia. According to Russia’s Kommersant news service, draft amendments to the Act on Freedom of Worship and Religious Associations will allow the Federal Registration Service to inspect religious organizations. This has many evangelical Christian organizations concerned.

Vice President of Russian Ministries Sergey Rakhuba says, “It’s quite disturbing news, Greg, and not just to Russian Ministries, but to many different denominations and churches in Russia, because the Russian parliament and President Putin they are trying to pass an amendment to control all religious organizations.”

According to Rakhuba, these amendments would do away with certain freedoms currently enjoyed in Russia. “They can always break into organizational environment and control it or find a reason to close it.”

According to Kommersant, the amendments are trying to rush the amendments through quickly. Rakhuba says this is reminiscent of the days of the Soviet Union. “The media (is) already controlled by the state. Non-government organizations are already controlled by the state, the Russian parliament is controlled by the Presidential power, and now with this they try to control other religious groups in Russia.”

According to Rukhuba the government is afraid of evangelical religious groups. “They are led by pastors who never submitted to the Soviet government before. They made a choice to prison then submit to their ungodly rules.”

While these proposed laws could impact affective outreach, it won’t stop it. Rakhuba is asking Christians to pray. “Pray that God would give wisdom to the Russian government, but also pray that we would continue to be faithful and especially the national church leaders in Russia, that they would continue their ministry despite any pressure and will continue saving people — preaching the love of Jesus.”

Russian Ministries provides pastoral and leadership training in ministry centers in many of the former Soviet block nations.

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