November 21, 2011
A month after two new laws limiting religious freedom came into effect, Kazakhs are beginning to feel the full effects of the ever-tightening restrictions, Mission Network News reports. The laws, introduced in October in an attempt to crack down on religious extremism, imposed registration regulations on religious groups, gave children involved with religious activities fewer rights and banned prayer rooms in all public places, including in prisons. "The government argues that having such prayer rooms allows them to be exploited by extremists," said church leader Aleksandr Suvorov. Not only have evangelical and Orthodox churches been affected, but some Islamic mosques have been shut down as well. Joel Griffith of the Slavic Gospel Association said this mentality could be extremely harmful to ministry, particularly prison ministry: "A lot of churches actually are formed behind prison walls, and these prisoners basically have their own congregations behind prison walls. ... It's obvious that prison ministry is going to be made a lot more difficult."