Russian Government Demolishes Pentecostal Church

Religion Today

Russian Government Demolishes Pentecostal Church

Human rights defenders and church members have expressed shock and outrage at the sudden destruction of a Pentecostal church in Moscow's eastern suburbs, which was apparently court-ordered, ASSIST News Service reports. Unknown workers -- backed by police and civil volunteers -- began tearing down Holy Trinity Pentecostal Church soon after midnight on Sept. 6, and by morning almost the entire three-story building had been destroyed. According to human rights groups, the Holy Trinity congregation had tried to meet the city's legal requirements, but "there was a court decision that we cannot use the building anymore, and it does not belong to us any longer," a church member explained. "They came at night to avoid conflict with people. ... We can do nothing ... just pray and cry." He explained that the Russian government was "forcibly" relocating churches, giving them land in more remote areas to construct new buildings. "The usual conditions are that the church develops the property within some specified time period," he said -- but in order to build on the land, permits are needed, which are often rejected or denied. When a congregation fails to meet the deadline, the land is repossessed and everything built on it becomes government property. Holy Trinity is among many evangelical churches kicked out of Moscow in recent months, incidents which some Christian leaders fear are evident that religious freedom in the country is fading.


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