Russian president Vladimir Putin approved a package of anti-terrorism laws that usher in tighter restrictions on missionary activity and evangelism.
Despite prayers and protests from religious leaders and human rights advocates, the Kremlin announced Putin’s approval yesterday. The amendments, including laws against sharing faith in homes, online, or anywhere but recognized church buildings, go into effect July 20, 2017 (this article was written by Christian Today on July 8).
Last month, “the local police officer came to a home where a group of Pentecostals meet each Sunday,” Konstantin Bendas, deputy bishop of the Pentecostal Union, told Forum 18. “With a contented expression he told them: ‘Now they’re adopting the law I’ll drive you all out of here.’
The proposed laws, considered the country’s most restrictive measures in post-Soviet history, place broad limitations on missionary work, including preaching, teaching, and engaging in any activity designed to recruit people into a religious group.
Russia is the only country whose repression of religious freedom has both intensified and expanded into a neighboring state by means of military occupation since USCIRF began monitoring it, officials said.
Russian evangelicals, who make up less than 1 percent of the population, continue to push back against the restrictions, which have resulted in arrests, fines, and confiscated materials for Protestants found guilty. They have risked punishment to continue to spread the gospel.