Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Kazakhstan: Six Christians fined, one deported for baptism


Those who exercise freedom of religion or belief outside the strict limits risk punishment through the courts for what the state regards as "missionary activity"

Times of Ahmad | News Watch | UK Desk
Source/Credit: Forum 18
By Felix Corley | August 4, 2017

After a Protestant Pastor and five foreign guests held baptisms in hot springs near Almaty, a court fined all six and ordered one foreigner deported, deeming they had conducted illegal "missionary activity". A Baptist pastor succeeded in overturning a police fine for leading his church.

A local Protestant pastor and five foreign visitors were fined for holding baptisms in hot springs near Kazakhst
an's commercial capital Almaty. One of the foreigners – a United States-based Canadian citizen – was ordered deported.

A court in Akmola Region overturned a summary police fine on a Baptist pastor for leading a church that chooses to meet for worship without seeking the compulsory state registration. The Judge ruled that as he had been fined for this in 2013 he could not be fined twice for the same "offence".

Strict controls

Kazakhstan imposes strict controls on who is allowed to exercise freedom of religion or belief and where. Only registered religious communities are allowed to meet for worship and they can do so only in their own registered premises or in other venues with state approval. Those who exercise freedom of religion or belief outside these strict limits risk punishment through the courts for what the state regards as "missionary activity".

Those who conduct "missionary activity" without personal registration as a "missionary" and without specific state approval for an literature they might use are subject to fines equivalent to about two months' average wage for those in work. However, anyone who is not a citizen of Kazakhstan is also subject to deportation.


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