While we were distracted here in America with our own issues, Russia went full Soviet on religious freedoms. Pretty much every gain that had been made since the Soviet Union collapsed was lost with a stroke of Putin’s pen.
The law is supposed to suppress terrorism and “extremism” but makes no meaningful distinction about what religions might be termed “extreme.” Although it’s clear that anyone who publicly shares their faith outside a church the state considers to be domesticated is in the extremist bucket.
Under the law, all personal evangelism on the streets and in individual homes is now restricted. Evangelizing outside registered churches will result in fines. Christians meeting in homes are not allowed to invite unbelievers.
Christians wishing to share their faith must secure government permits through registered religious organizations. Even with such permits, they are not allowed to witness anywhere besides registered churches or religious sites. Churches that rent rather than owning their facilities will be forcibly disbanded.
Besides rendering evangelism illegal, the law will also punish not reporting violations. Russian believers and missionaries will be under constant scrutiny of officials and even neighbors.
Individuals found guilty of violating the new law will be fined up to $800 USD, while organizations found in violation will be fined up to $15,500. Foreigners found in violation will be deported. All aspects of the law also apply to internet activities.
Of course, the essence of Christianity is to spread the faith, and this law prevents it. It also prevents ISIS from recruiting new members in Russia–and yes, with Chechnya and a Muslim population of 12 to 15 percent of Russia’s total, that is an enormous problem for them.
We need to be aware of what Russia’s doing because it does directly affect us. America’s religious freedoms are being eroded from every side, led by leaders who subscribe to an active secular humanist worldview that lumps all religions into a big bucket labeled “myth.” Over the past half century, these leaders have systematically attacked Christianity in the public square and political sphere. They’ve constructed an unbreakable rule that government is to be without religion (except secular humanism).
This is not the religious freedom America’s founders envisioned. They believed in an open marketplace of religious ideas, where Catholics could be publicly Catholic, Protestants could be outwardly protestant, and the same with Jews and Muslims. They believed that the marketplace of ideas would regulate who believed what and therefore how our government functioned. The fact that our founders were Christian was incidental to their belief in enlightened knowledge. In fact, their Christianity demanded the specific freedoms written into our Constitution, protecting everyone.
What the secular humanists want is the removal of all religion from government and the public square. That inevitably leads right where Putin has taken Russia, where the government gets to decide what religion is acceptable and what is considered “extremism.”
If you can’t see how dangerous this is, to our future, to the American way of life, then you probably agree with Putin. By the way, President Obama agrees with Putin. From what I’ve heard from Donald Trump, he flirts with that view, although lately he’s been more sensitive to hear the truth. As for Hillary Clinton, she believes in nothing that doesn’t personally benefit her.
With all the divisions, immorality, and self-serving politicians America is dealing with, our right to pursue truth, as we see it, and proclaim the absolute truth of the Bible to those who desperately need it, is foundational to any hope of healing. Without it, America is lost.
That’s not just some polemic, it’s a fact. Look at every country in the world–they are either moving toward Christ or away from it. The countries that have moved toward Christ are healing, and the ones that are moving away are fracturing. America is not Israel or God’s chosen anything. We are not immune.