March 2, 2012
The central Asian country of Kazakhstan has heightened its crackdown on religious freedom, stripping previously recognized religious groups of their registrations, Baptist Press reports. Kazakh authorities have rescinded the legal registrations of 579 "small religious groups" -- groups with fewer than 50 adult members -- as part of a new religion law passed last October. "We have a new law," said Kazakh official Saule Ibrayeva said. "And as it does not allow for the existence of religious associations which have fewer than 50 members, they should either re-register with 50 members or stop their activity as a religious association." Small religious groups have until Oct. 25 to re-register with 50 members, but regulations for re-registration have not been put in place. In the meantime, small religious groups will not be allowed to continue their activities. When questioned how Christians belonging to a small group could do things like preach or administer the Lord's Supper without meeting, Ibrayeva responded, "This is the law and everybody must obey it."