New religious laws in Russia not expected to hurt Catholic Church

Russia’s new  religious laws  may affect small groups of Evangelicals more than the Catholic Church in Russia.

Russia’s new anti-terrorism laws, which include sweeping restrictions on Christian evangelising and teaching the faith, have officially come into force.

A Catholic priest, who has been serving in Russia for 24 years,  says the Catholic Church follows government regulations. These require religious organizations to be officially registered with the government.

Some smaller religious groups, often Evangelical groups, believe it is against their conscience to register with the government and so they refuse to do so, the priest said.

The ‘Yaroyava’ package, named after their sponsor in the Russian Duma, has been fiercely condemned both by Russian Christians and rights activists and internationally. It makes house churches illegal and limits religious activity to registered buildings.

According to Russia’s Council of Churches-Baptists, the laws will “create conditions for the repression of all Christians”. The council said in an open letter: “Any person who mentions their religious view or reflections out loud or puts them in writing, without the relevant documents, could be accused of illegal missionary activity.”

Another open letter, from the Protestant Churches of Russia, said the laws were “the most draconian anti-religion bill to be proposed in Russia since Nikita Khrushchev promised to eliminate Christianity in the Soviet Union”.

 

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