A new law banning all forms of religion in Russia has been signed this week by President Vladimir Putin.
It’s a troubling times for Churches in Russia as the State tries to seal loopholes for anyone to meet Christ.
Jehovah’s Witnesses were the first victim since 2017. Jehovah Witnesses have been banned in Russia as an extremist organization since then. Leaders and members of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ communities can be fined and punished criminally for professing their religion. In 2019 there were 18 criminal sentences of Jehovah’s Witnesses, this number increased to 25 in 2020, and 13 people were sentenced to jail terms. Overall, more than 400 believers have been prosecuted.
The new laws signed last week say foreign guests are not permitted to speak in churches unless they have a “work permit” from Russian authorities.
Moreover if a friend or relative from outside Russia wishes to share his/her faith in your home the guest will be fined and expelled from Russia.
Further more, any discussion about God with non-believers is considered missionary activity and will be punishable.
Meanwhile missionary activity will be permitted by special government permission. Example: If one travelling on a train shares his faith without written permission, the offender will be taken into police custody for the duration of the journey and will be fined 50,000 rubles ($1,000).
Offenders from the age of 14-years-old will be subject to prosecution.
The new law further States that religious activity is no longer permitted in private homes since Christians were mostly meeting in homes.
For this purpose every citizen is obligated to report religious activities of neighbours to the authorities. Failure to be an informant is punishable by law.
But one may pray and read the Bible at home but not in the presence of a non-believing person which means the person will be breaking the law and it’s punishable, the new law says.
The new laws further say, if the church has purchased property, it cannot be converted into a place of worship.
Moreover it’s not permitted to invite people to turn to God in any church building. Worship services are permitted, but making a non-believer a follower of Christ is against the law.