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Exiled at Home: Russia's Believers Cry Out to God over Law Banning Christian Talk

07-16-2016
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Thousands of churches in Russia are coming together to fast and pray just days after President Vladmir Putin signed a new anti-terrorism bill into law that severely restricts Christians' freedom of faith.

The "Yarovaya" law is intended to limit the spread of terrorism and extremisim, but church leaders say it punishes any kind of religious evangelization outside of the church.

"This new situation resembles the Soviet Union in 1929. At that time confession of faith was permitted only in church," Hannu Haukka, president of Great Commission Media Ministries, told National Religious Broadcasters. "Practically speaking, we are back in the same situation. These anti-terrorist laws are some of the most restrictive laws in post-Soviet history."

Haukka told Charisma News vial email that about 7,000 evangelical and Protestant churches are fasting and praying because the new law is in direct conflict with the purpose and mission of the Gospel. 

Under the law, foreign missionaries will not be allowed to speak at a church unless they have a work permit from Russian authorities. Furthermore, any discussion about God with non-believers would be considered missionary activity and punishable by law.

This means that anyone as young as 14 who is found preaching could be persecuted. Additionally, religious activity in a private home is not allowed.

"It is impossible for believers to comply with the requirements not to express their religious beliefs and to be silent even in their own homes as required by the legislation," Seventh Day Adventist's Moscow-based Euro-Asia Division said. 

The ministry went on to say that the religious situation in the country will grow considerably more complicated. 

"Many believers will find themselves in exile and subjected to reprisals because of our faith," they said.

The legislation puts churches in a very difficult position and throws Russia back into it's Soviet-era KGB.

NRB President Jerry A. Johnson has called on the U.S. 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.

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