Saturday, June 16, 2007

Remembering the Church in Belarus

Today is the second day of a three day fast by Protestant Christians in Belarus. Its purpose is to draw attention to religious rights violations against religious minorities by the government. Then on Sunday, June 17, Protestant believers from across Belarus will pray for religious freedom in their country.

Already the most religiously restrictive nation in Europe, the situation in Belarus has worsened recently. More than two dozen priests, foreign citizens, have been deported. Three Protestant churches have been closed. Church leaders have been imprisoned for holding services in their homes; others have been heavily fined.

Please join in praying for our brothers and sisters in Belarus. They are also asking that Christians from around the world join in writing to Belarusian authorities, asking for changes to current legislation on freedom of conscience and religious organizations. The law stipulates that all unregistered religious activity, communities with fewer than 20 members, and any religious activity in private homes (apart from occasional, small-scale meetings) are considered illegal. Religious communities that do not have a registered umbrella body are not able to invite foreign citizens for religious work and all religious literature is subject to censorship. Registration is often a difficult process and many organizations, including some with thousands of members, have been unable to register.

Syarhei Tsvor, a deputy bishop of the United Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith recently told Radio Svaboda, "The law bans any religious events in dwelling houses, without a special permission, and we have 197 houses where services are taking place. At any moment these pastors can be arrested. We shall pray to God to protect us, as we had no reply to our written appeals to authorities."

You can support the campaign of our brothers and sisters in seeking protection of their rights of freedom of conscience if you write letters to following addresses:

House of Representatives, Parliament
220000 Sovetskaya St., 11, Minsk, Belarus

Administration of the President of the Republic of Belarus
220016 K. Marx St., 38, Minsk, Belarus

Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus
220010, Sovetskaya St., 11 Minsk, Belarus

Constitutional Court of the Republic of Belarus
220016, K. Marx St., 32, Minsk, Belarus

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