Russian President Vladimir Putin recently approved new restrictions on religious freedom in Russia. These restrictions are being called “the country’s most restrictive measures in post-Soviet history” and went into effect today. Touted as “anti-terrorism laws,” these new measures could essentially stop Christian believers from being able to share their faith in Christ with others—even in their own homes—or risk strict fines.
According to one report, these amendments would
restrict those who can share beliefs to people with permission from members of state-registered religious groups and organisations. . . . The amendments also bar even informal sharing of beliefs, for example responding to questions or comments, by individuals acting on their own behalf. . . . The amendments also restrict the beliefs that can be shared, specifies a restricted list of places where beliefs may be shared, and explicitly bans any beliefs from being shared in residential buildings, or on another association’s property without permission. An allegedly “anti-terrorist” part of the amendments bars the conversion of residential property to religious use.
Depending on how these new restrictions are enforced, they could make it extremely difficult for Russians, or even foreign missionaries, to share their faith with others, and will likely shut down home churches. Believers will not be able to share their faith “in homes, online, or anywhere but recognized church buildings.”
The president of a ministry called Mission Eurasia and a former church planter in Moscow said of these restrictions, “Russia’s evangelicals . . . have gone underground before, and they’ll be willing to do it again. . . . They say, ‘If it will come to it, it’s not going to stop us from worshiping and sharing our faith.’ . . . The Great Commission isn’t just for a time of freedom.”
Please join us in praying for strength for our Christian brothers and sisters in Russia as their lives could get much harder in light of these new restrictions. And pray that the light of the gospel would still shine brightly even in the midst of persecution.
And also let this be a reminder for Americans to be vigilant here in the United States and not to let secular groups (like the Freedom from Religion Foundation and Americans United for Separation of Church and State) continue their onslaught against the free exercise of religion guaranteed by the US Constitution. The main reason Answers in Genesis went to federal court (and won) earlier this year over a tourism tax incentive for the Ark Encounter was to make a stand against those opposing the First Amendment’s free exercise clause. I urge all Americans not to let these secularist groups get away with further eroding the guarantees under the First Amendment.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.