Like most former Soviet countries in Central Asia, Tajikistan has gradually become more restrictive of religious freedom since it became independent in 1991. Since 2009, the government has broadened the laws that limit religious freedom, demanding state registration for religious groups and criminalising all unregistered religious activity. The import, export and distribution of religious publications must also be approved by the government.
Christians involved in organising or participating in unregistered activities face large fines and prison sentences, under recent amendments to code. Evangelism and private Christian education (except by parents) are prohibited, and official permission must be given to provide Christian instruction. All children under the age of 18 are forbidden from taking part in religious activities.
There are currently about 80 registered churches in Tajikistan and the total Christian population is estimated at up to 98,000, some 1.5% of the total population. Many ethnic Russians and other Europeans have left Tajikistan for Russia and the declining number of Europeans may make life harder for Tajikistan’s Christians.
Tajikistan is very poor, with high levels of unemployment among young people. Several hundred young men have gone to fight for Islamic State in Syria. There is a concern that radical groups like Islamic State will gain more influence in Tajikistan.
Pray for Christians in Tajikistan who face so many restrictions in the way in which they can practically live out their faith. Ask the Lord to encourage them in their walk with Him and to show them how He would have them serve Him. Pray that the controls on Christian activity and publications will be eased so that the believers can meet freely without fear of imprisonment and fines. Pray especially for Christian children, that they will grow in their faith in spite of the government restrictions on their involvement in Christian activities.