April 2017 looks as though it will be a month to remember for Christians living in the Russian Federation. If the Supreme Court upholds a judgement that brands the ministry of a Christian faith as Extremism.
Immediately the activities of more than 170,000 Christians will be criminalized, the 120,000 associates will be open to prosecution if they participate in acts of worship, meet with for the purpose of discussing the Bible and their faith with anyone.
Almost 300,000 peace loving Christians will have their religious freedom curtailed.
When President Stalin did this to a smaller number of Christians it was a constitutional decision. Today when the Russian Federation follows through it is evidence of state interference in a country that openly commits to freedom of worship.
The christian group facing this threat – The Russian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Other Christian Groups Affected
The decision to label non-orthodox groups that promote the Kingdom of God as the only solution to the problems Humanity faces opens the way for the state to bring action against any religion.
Looking at the Russian Federations record on the treatment of Christians we are witnessing the persecution of peace-loving minorities.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are the litmus test as they have always taken action through legal means to protect the Human Rights of individual citizens. Religious and social freedoms around the world have been established in the legal frameworks through their activities. Therefore once they have exhausted all legal means and the religious activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses are banned other faiths should prepare for similar treatment.
For the churches this will mean loss of buildings and property, confiscation of Bibles and literature, restrictions on worship and criminalizing of their activities.
Other Countries to Notice
Most Islamic Countries severely limit the activities of Christians, preventing meetings for worship, the ownership of bibles and speaking about faith.
Although there is more freedom in China today this is still limited for Christians, particularly for those faiths that promote political neutrality.
Eritrea has made an example of those who will not vote, engage in the political or military state. As these Christians claim they are a part of an International family that recognizes no borders and take Christs words to heart “to be no part of the world”. This stance has led to some being held without charge or trial for more than 20 years.
The persecution is based on the decision that these Christians have declared themselves stateless therefore they have no rights, no documents that will allow them to travel and no needs.
How long will this continue?
Last month I read a comment about illiberal liberalism. A permissive world that views any personal restraint as criticism and a judgmental comment on their way of life.
You can have freedom but the price to be paid is individuality has to be surrendered. The freedom to do as I please is not attractive because freedom without restraint gives permission for individuals to commit the most heinous atrocities.
We are clearly told that religious persecution will begin to affect all faiths, it doesn’t matter what religious path you follow the secular society will use its teeth to destroy religion.
Only the courageous will continue to worship and proclaim their faith at that time. We are tumbling to a world without restraint, without moral guidance and national identity is going to be the main faith group.
So while we have the opportunity let all Christians openly confess their faith, practice truth and promote the Kingdom of God in the hands of Jesus Christ as the only hope for humankind.