As theological debates on sexuality and marriage become more and more central, many Christian denominations are being asked to clarify their views.
The law that makes evangelism illegal has come into force in Russia, on Wednesday 20th July. The situation is still better than in the URSS days, says evangelist Alex Jaruchik.
On 20th July, the anti-terror law approved by the Duma and signed by President Vladimir Putin came into force.
Sharing one’s faith will now be restricted to named members of registered organisations. Discussing about faith will only be allowed in registered religious buildings.
“All sharing of faith will be forbidden in homes. Informal witnessing between individuals is not allowed” the European Evangelical Alliance explained. “There are also restrictions on witnessing via social media.”
If the law is broken, “the fines to be paid are high.”
EVANGELISM AFTER THE FALL OF THE URSS
Alex Jaruchik has been sharing the Christian faith through radio broadcasts for many years.
He told Evangelical Focus about his experience. “After the disappearance of the URSS, some laws about religious organisations and freedom of worship changed significantly.”
“If one compares the freedom of speech and of religion in the times of the Communist persecution and now, it is obvious that nowadays there is much more freedom than during the Soviet totalitarian regime.”
The new restrictive law is based on “partially approved laws in the years 2002 and 2006”, Jaruchik says. “Every new religious belief that appears in the territory needs to get the ‘approval’ of the State Church and the Government – sometimes this approval is official, sometimes not.”
THE RESTRICTIVE ROLE OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH
Do the new measures affecting evangelicals and other faith groups benefit the Russian Orthodox Church? “The reality is that the official Russian Church is losing much of the control they had had for centuries”, Jaruchik says.
“If you look at history in the last 1,000 years you will see that the Orthodox Church and state have always been together. Even in the most cruel times of Crommunism, the official Church was standing next to the governments.”
TERRORISM AS A “PRETEXT”
And, what about the terrorist threats? “Personally, I believe that terrorism is only a pretext to increase the control of the population. Actually, this is true in many other countries already, not only in Russia”, Jaruchik says.
So, what should Christians do, now that evangelism has been made illegal? “Real believers and followers of Christ will continue preaching in Russia and in whatever society they are living in. We have to be faithful to the Lord of lords and King of kings, until the end.”