Kazakhstan – Religious Persecution Continues Unrelentlessly

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Kazakhstan, one of the former Soviet colonies in Central Asia, and a reputable oil power, is trying to convince the world it is a civilised nation. Yet, religious persecution cotinues and even intensifies there, for decades, as proven by this recent article published by Forum 18.

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KAZAKHSTAN: Criminal conviction, large “moral damages” – and new criminal case?

By Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service

Retired Presbyterian Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev was this afternoon (17 February) given a four-year suspended prison term in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana. He was convicted of harming the health of a church member, even though that church member has repeatedly insisted to state authorities that her health was not harmed. He also has to pay his alleged “victim” large “moral damages” of 2 Million Tenge (about 65,800 Norwegian Kroner, 7,900 Euros or 10,800 US Dollars). “In my experience as a lawyer, this is one of the strangest cases I have seen in terms of legality”, Pastor Kashkumbayev’s lawyer Nurlan Beysekeyev told Forum 18 News Service after the verdict was handed down orally. “It was not just strange, but from the standpoint of the law, all types of violations occurred, when the case was opened, when it was being investigated and during the trial.” Kashkumbayev will appeal against the verdict. Other violations of freedom of religion or belief continue, including ongoing raids on meetings for worship without state permission. Continue reading “Kazakhstan – Religious Persecution Continues Unrelentlessly”

C.S. Lewis on Benevolent Dictators

Peter Enns publishes today on his Patheos blog a quotation from C.S. Lewis (taken from God in the Dock) which appeared in the Wall Street Journal on 1 November 2013.

It applies very well not only to the political realm, but also to the ecclesial one. Here it is:

My contention is that good men (not bad men) consistently acting upon that position [imposing “the good”] would act as cruelly and unjustly as the greatest tyrants. They might in some respects act even worse. Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. Continue reading “C.S. Lewis on Benevolent Dictators”

40 Years in the Desert – 1. The Legacy of Communism 1

1.1 Control and Manipulation

The leadership style of the communist era is undoubtedly one of manipulation and control. The party had to have absolute control over the lives of citizens. At the same time, this approach to leadership was replicated at every level of society, including often even in the church.

The usual justification for this undemocratic way of ruling society was that it was done ‘for the good of the people’, because, it was strongly suggested, people obviously do not know what is in their real interest. But the ‘benevolent’ communist party was ready to make good decisions for them. Continue reading “40 Years in the Desert – 1. The Legacy of Communism 1”

From Bondage to the Desert – How to Prepare for Freedom – 2

2. Between Dictatorship and Democracy

When the only leadership style that we have known and observed in our lifetime is dictatorship and control, it is very easy to internalise this approach and not be aware of the fact that we are tending to lead the church in the same way that we have seen communist leaders controlling our society. Continue reading “From Bondage to the Desert – How to Prepare for Freedom – 2”