Belarus is sometimes described as “the last dictatorship of Europe’. Presidential elections were held in October 2015 and it was no surprise to anyone that President Lukashenko won easily. Under Lukashenko’s rule, Belarus has continued to enforce many Soviet-era policies, including harsh restrictions on religious freedom.
Although the constitution of Belarus is seemingly supportive of religious freedom, the country’s government strictly regulates Christian groups. All religious communities are obliged to register with the State, but this is often made difficult for Christian groups who are politically “disfavoured” Even church leaders who have official registration can face harassment and fines for religious activity that is unregistered.
The congregation ofa church banned from second largest city in Belarus, was a Sunday meeting together after the police raided had met service in June 2015 where 20 members together in a rented building to worship, even though the church has state registration. The church pastor was then fined, and police continued to harass him by searching his home looking for “sectarian” literature. When they could not find anything, they demanded a list of the church members and documentation on church activity. The difficulties in obtaining official state registration have driven some churches underground Although religious meetings in private homes are not prohibited, there are tight restrictions on the number of people who can attend as well as how often they can meet.
Lift up in prayer Christians in Belarus as they seek to strengthen their faith by meeting together to worship the Lord. Pray for those who have been subjected to raids, fines and harassment for their faith. Ask the Lord to shepherd congregations facing difficulty in obtaining the official registration required by the State. Pray also that the tight control that the government currently exercises over Christian groups will be loosened.