NEW LAW WILL CRIPPLE THE CHURCH IN RUSSIA
On June 24th Russia’s the Lower House of Parliament, the Duma, passed a package of new “anti-terrorism laws.” These laws were approved by the Upper House of Russia’s parliament on June 29th. President Putin gave final approval and signed the law on July 7th.
This new situation resembles the Soviet Union in 1929 when confession of faith was cofined to the inside of a few existing church buildings. Practically speaking we are back in that same situation.
The law summarized:
1) Any discussion of God with non-believers is considered missionary activity and will be punishable by law.
2) Missionary activity will be permitted by special government permission. If , for example, one traveling on a train shares his faith without written permission he/she will be taken into police custody for the duration of the journey and will be fined 50,000 rubles ($1000).
3) Religious activity is no longer permitted in private homes. Most of Russia’s 7,000 churches meet in homes.
4) Every citizen is obligated to report religious activity (of neighbors) to the authorities. Failure to inform is punishable by law.
5) One may pray, read the Bible at home but not in the presence of a non-believing person. You will be breaking the law and be punished.
6) In Church buildings it is not permitted to invite people to turn to God. Worship services are permitted but making a non-believer a follower of Christ is against the law.
7) If the Church has purchased property it cannot be converted into a place of worship.
8) Foreign guests are not permitted to speak in Churches unless they have a “work permit” from Russian authorities.
9) If a friend or relative from outside Russia wishes to share his/her faith in your home the guest will be fined and expelled from Russia.
Recently we spoke with the highest level of Church leaders in Russia by phone. Russia is closing down. The new law is in total conflict with the Russian constitution and the task given to the Church by our Lord.
According to our best estimate, drawn from 40 years of experience working in Russia, a window of opportunity will exist for the next few months, possibly until late fall as the Kremlin works out the details regarding the implementation of the law.
The Churches of Russia have pleaded with us to print more New Testaments and Bibles asap. We believe we have a short window of 4-6 months.
We need to place orders for as many New Testaments and Bibles as possible and asap. Would you consider helping us with a generous gift at this time?