KESTON NEWS SERVICE - SUMMARY
Issue 3, Articles 28-34
4 April 2000
Summaries of recent reporting on violations of religious liberty and on religion
in communist and post-communist lands.
NEW from KNS. This Summary service goes only to those who subscribe to
Keston News Service. We will be sending it weekly. Only articles which have
been published earlier in the week will appear. We hope this service is useful to
you as we have greatly increased our reporting in the last three months and
realise not everyone may have time to read all the articles.
BELARUSIAN PROTESTANTS AFRAID TO DISCUSS RELIGIOUS
FREEDOM ABUSES (31 March) Government intimidation successfully
silences both indigenous and foreign religious workers in Belarus. A local
human rights activist gives specific examples of intimidation to Keston
including the unpublished document which seems to limit the number of
foreign religious workers and the period of their visas. Protestants are unable to
rent property and cannot be registered without a non-domestic address listed
for their meetings. Children have been mocked by their teacher for attending
Sunday school. The anti-sectarian Volotsk Information Centre, the work of
Venerable Iosif, employs 2 people and has 30 volunteers who assist the
Committee for Religious and Ethnic Affairs by informing the police of any
perceived violations of the law by religious organisations.
MINSK CHARISMATICS ON THE VERGE OF BEING FORCED
UNDERGROUND (31 March) A Full Gospel pastor told Keston that during a
four hour interrogation he was accused of being responsible for the onset of
insanity in one of his parishioners; his �interviewers� reminded him that his
father was sentenced for the same reasons and imprisoned in 1961. Due to
unpublished Decree No. 36, �On Certain Measures to Prevent Accidents During
Mass Meetings� the Full Gospel churches have been told that �the rental of
cinemas for worship services is not possible as they have a different purpose�.
They cannot be registered without stating a meeting location, cannot use a
residence �for anything other than its intended purpose�, and are prohibited
from renting any other location.
UNPUBLISHED BELARUSIAN DIRECTIVE DENIES REGISTRATION
TO 12 �DESTRUCTIVE SECTS� (to be published 3 April). Through a third
party Keston obtained a list of the 12 from a member of the religion committee.
They are: the Church of Christ (Boston Movement), the Unification Church
(Moonies), Vissarion, Scientology, the Bogorodichny Centre, The Family, the
White Brotherhood, Amadiya, the League of Spiritual Renewal �Sanatana
Dharma�, Aum Shinrikyo, the Satanists and the Society of Veda Culture. On a
radio phone-in programme a member of the Expert Council for Religious and
Ethnic Affairs stated that with regards to national security, �sectarians� were
waging an �informational-psychological war� by �altering our consciousness�.
If not resisted she warned, �we will cease to exist�.
US CHURCH WORKERS FALL FOUL OF BELARUS� HARSH
MISSIONARY REGULATIONS (to be published 3 April) Arrested in front of
a local congregation and expelled from Belarus, the 16 US church workers
neither registered a complaint nor contacted the US Embassy. When the local
pastor requested permission for three of the visitors to preach prior to their
visit, the committee chair for Religious and Ethnic Affairs requested proof of
their theological education and grounds for the necessity of their proposed
activity. The church received no answer and only one American ended up
giving a �personal testimony� - none preached. Further requirements have since
been added and after a more recent request by the same pastor for further
visitors, the same committee declared they were �withholding a positive
ORGANISATIONS �MUST BE LIQUIDATED� IF THEY FAIL TO MEET
NEW REREGISTRATION DEADLINE (30 March) Putin signed the
reregistration deadline extension into law with a crucial alteration slipped in.
Instead of stating that any organisation which fails to achieve reregistration
�may be liquidated�, the new law states they �must be liquidated�.
TURKMEN PRESIDENT ORDERS KORAN TRANSLATION BURNT (27
March) Translated and published in 1995 with funding from the Turkmenistan
government and with approval by the Chief Mufti, the Turkmen translation is
now to be destroyed. The Council for Religious Affairs refused to comment,
the Chief Mufti was unreachable and Keston was unable to discover under
which legal provision the President was empowered to order the book�s
burning. It is unclear if they have been burnt and scholars disagree whether or
not it is sacrilege to do so.
CALLS CONTINUE IN POLAND FOR NEW RELIGIOUS RESTRICTIONS
(27 March) While the Roman Catholic Church continues to improve relations
with minority churches in a country 95 per cent Catholic the government has
decided it needs to allow for the withdrawal of rights from registered churches
whose activities it believes �allow room for doubts�. A 1998 law stemmed the
increase in registered churches but was not applied retroactively - that would be
the task of the new legislation. Meanwhile the Roman Catholic Church has
signed a document with 6 minority churches mutually recognising each others
baptism and has returned a church to the Lutherans. Keston catalogues cases of
discrimination against Protestants, a Hindu and a Buddhist group.
Copyright (c) 2000 Keston Institute. All rights reserved.