Law That Bans Evangelism.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a measure punishing any kind of religious evangelization outside of churches, which some observers have called one of the most restrictive move in “post-Soviet history.”
“This new situation resembles the Soviet Union in 1929. At that time confession of faith was permitted only in church,” said Hannu Haukka, president of Great Commission Media Ministries, “Practically speaking, we are back in the same situation. These anti-terrorist laws are some of the most restrictive laws in post-Soviet history.” Charisma News reported that thousands of churches in Russia are coming together in prayer and fasting against the move, based on information shared by Haukka. "The church is appalled at the news of the new law.
The Christian Post reported earlier this month that several Christian groups in Russia have already spoken out against the draconian measures, with the Seventh-day Adventist's Moscow-based Euro-Asia Division stating that it is nearly "impossible" for religious believers to comply with the requirements. "If this legislation is approved, the religious situation in the country will grow considerably more complicated and many believers will find themselves in exile and subjected to reprisals because of our faith," the group said before Putin's signature.
Under the new law, foreign missionaries will not be allowed to speak at churches unless they have a work permit from Russian authorities; any kind of discussion about God with non believers would be considered missionary activity and punishable by law; and religious activities even in private homes will not be allowed. What is more, anyone from the age of 14 found to be preaching will be subject to prosecution, and every citizen is required to report religious activity to the authorities, or face punishment him or herself.
Haukka asked Christians around the world to join in prayer with the Russian churches as they face uncertain times. “Russia is closing down in an lawful way. The new law is in total conflict with the purpose and the task given to the church by the Lord. The law will send the church back into Soviet era Communist persecution,” he asked. NRB President Jerry A. Johnson further called on the United States government to pressure Russia to repeal what he described as an “unjust law.” “Let's pray this new iron curtain of Christian persecution in Russia will be lifted quickly and without harm to our brothers and sisters in Christ," Johnson said.
[EDITORS: We wonder if this law will be applied to the Russian Orthodox church. Some church systems are so ritualistic and their members are so used to just the forms, that this law might not bother them. Let us also see how Fr. Thomas Reese reacts to it.
Jesus’ command and promise is: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 28:19,20. Pray for our brethren in Russia.]