Kyrgyzstan accelerates church registration, but religious oppression continues
We have some good news: Since December, Kyrgyzstan’s government has approved the registration of more than 60 religious communities, most of them Protestant churches. There is some bad news as well: The right to exist does not mean the right to actually meet.
“Communities cannot have public meetings outside their registered addresses unless they receive prior permission for each event from the authorities, and our experience is that the authorities do not normally give permission”, a Christian from the country said. “The authorities have punished people for sharing their beliefs in public places with adults”. Forum 18, reported this on their website, but did not disclose the identity of the Christian, to safeguard against government reprisal.
Religious literature still needs to pass a government review. No one is allowed to share religious information with children.
The question comes up to ask, what explains the sudden burst of registration approvals? Perhaps the government would like to improve its reputation among the international community. Also, early next year Kyrgyzstan is due for a review of its human-rights record before the United Nations Human Rights Council.
In the past, radical extremists have spread hatred and fear amongst the Christian community. The picture above is of a church that was broken into, with a hateful message inscribed on the wall.
For those in position of leadership in Kyrgyzstan to make concrete steps to promote religious freedom.
Pray for Christians who gather in secret, may they find protection. May they continue to be a strong witness for the Lord despite the repression they live under.