Belarus (MNN) — Foreign religious workers are concerned
over the tightening of restrictions in Belarus. Decisions on whether their religious work is necessary now come from the
top religious affairs official.
According to Forum 18 News, the Plenipotentiary for
Religious and Ethnic Affairs has the right not to give reasons for refusing a
foreign religious worker's visit and to shorten a visit.
Under the existing law, foreign workers must have an
invitation from registered religious associations, but the process for
registration is complicated, as is the new procedure for the invitation.
In 2002, a new religion law came into effect. Despite constitutional guarantees of religious
freedom, the law lumps many religious activities as illegal. Under it, all unregistered religious
activity, communities with fewer than 20 members, and any religious activity in
private homes go against the law.
Religious organizations were required to be re-registered by
November, 2004. However, registration is
often a difficult process, and many organizations, including some with thousands
of members, have been unable to register. Officials frequently use the media to
insult religious minorities, insulting their beliefs, and attempting to incite
hostility against them.
For those religious communities that don't have a registered
umbrella body, they can't invite foreign citizens for religious work. On top of that, all religious literature is
subject to censorship.
Pray for wisdom for Christians as they minister under these
repressive conditions. Pray that they
will rely on the Spirit of God for guidance.