Monday, September 12, 2011
When Belarus was part of the U.S.S.R, the militant atheism encouraged by communism destroyed almost every church in the country. Today, many Christian groups are caught in the net of a restrictive religious law passed in 2002. Groups of fewer than 20 Christians are "illegal" and are fined about six months' worth of income ($150) for holding Bible studies in homes. KGB policemen sometimes film the sermons of visiting pastors to document their "crime." New congregations are told they must register, but when they comply, their registration is delayed or denied.
Police officers raid homes and confiscate Christian CDs, audiocassettes of sermons and Christian literature. Authorities defend the fines and raids with statements such as, "What the people did was illegal" or "We have
the right to raid unauthorized worship." In March 2011, two Baptist congregations were raided and warned that they could face two years of imprisonment for their activities, according to Forum 18 News Service.
In November 2005, Belarus passed an amendment to its criminal code that enables authorities to punish Christian leaders who harm the rights, freedoms and legal interests of citizens.
A church led by Pastor Valentin Borovik was fined $149 (a large sum in Belarus) in June 2008. The church's crimes, according to the Mosty District Court, were, "At their meetings they read the gospel, discuss questions of religious faith, sing songs and conduct religious rites."
Communist governments have always used the term "freedom" to take away their citizens' freedoms. This pattern is recurring today under the guise of income and land redistribution. China, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Belarus - all of which espouse varying degrees of Marxism-Leninism - have established religious freedom laws that are artfully crafted to deny their citizens religious freedom.
Pray for Christians in Belarus as they struggle to worship God under restrictive laws.
(from Voice of the Martyrs newsletter, September 2011)
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