On 6 October, amendments to Kazakhstan’s religious laws were approved by the parliament and then passed on to the senate.
The legislation added new restrictions to religious events conducted outside a building of worship owned by a registered religious organisation. Already, any religious community not in receipt of an official state registration is presently being banned, and the process of obtaining such registration has proven to be very difficult.
Under the new amendments, any activity taking place at a different location from that of the registered place of worship will require approval at least ten business days in advance, along with a detailed explanation of what the event is to entail. The approval of these religious events rests with local officials who could withhold permission for many reasons.
Along with the onerous registration approval process, the probability of arbitrary denials, and additional restrictions on events, there is now this further concern that the legislation applies to any meeting held at a location not owned by the religious organisation. As a result, members of churches congregating in rented facilities are concerned that their meetings will now fall under these new restrictions and, therefore, require permission for each individual church event.
On 2 December, the senate approved the legislation, adding new amendments. Restrictions against onetime religious events remained in effect. The amended approval process now requires precise details, including the date and time, how many people will be involved, travel routes and number of vehicles needed, and whether loudspeakers are to be used. Senate amendments clarified that such approval is not required for regular meetings held in facilities not owned by the organisation, such as rentals.
The amended legislation has recently been returned to parliament for approval. While thankful for some of the clarifications, religious leaders remain concerned over these newly stipulated requirements and how they are actually to be enacted.
“Much will depend on the instructions of religious affairs authorities and the discretion of local or national officials,”
states a legal specialist.
Let us pray.
- Pray the believers in Kazakhstan will not be discouraged but will continue to make every effort to meet.
- Praise God that the plans of men cannot stop the Holy Spirit’s work. Ask the Lord to use this opposition to strengthen the resolve of believers to love and serve in unity for the sake of the Gospel
- Prayerfully uphold the country’s Christian leaders as they endeavour to effectively lead their congregations and reach out with the Good News of Jesus in their communities.