“Soviet history shows us how many people of different faiths have been persecuted for spreading the Word of God. This law brings us back to a shameful past,” wrote Sergei Ryakhovsky, head of the Protestant Churches of Russia, to President Vladimir Putin, expressing his deep concern for the “anti-terrorism law” that was just this week approved by the Russian President.
So many people around the globe, from human rights advocates to religious leaders, protested this move by the Kremlin, which makes it against the law for Christians to share their faith online, in their homes and anywhere that is not a sanctioned and recognized church.
The new law was proposed by lawmaker, Irina Yarovaya, of the United Russia party. It targets all religious groups that are not of the Russian Orthodox church. Any evangelistic activities that are outside the confines of the Orthodox Church members is considered missionary work and therefore now will be a violation of Russian law. If that is how missionary work is interpreted by the Moscow Patriarchate then “The Orthodox Church can go after ethnic Russians but that no other church will be allowed to,” Frank Goble, an expert on religious and ethnic issues in the region believes.
Because the Russian Orthodox church is “part of the bulwark of the Russian nationalism” which has been stirred up by President Putin, anything that will “undermine” this bulwark, even if it is evangelical Protestant missionaries, will be seen as a threat.
The rest of the story may be found on page two.