Russian Baptists are worried that they may lose the freedom to worship after the Russian courts banned Jehovah’s Witnesses from the country.
A.V. Smirov, chairman of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christian Baptists recently wrote the following open letter to Vladimir Putin expressing his concerns about the loss of religious freedoms in Russia. You can find the original letter in Russian here.
AN OPEN LETTER
Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich, peace be with you!
On March 15, 2017, the Ministry of Justice of the RF appealed to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation with a lawsuit concerning the liquidation of the “Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia” and a ban on their activities of this religious organization for extremism. The case is scheduled for April 5.
At the same time, according to the Order of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation No. 320-r dated 15.03.2017 “On Suspending the Activity of a Religious Organization” in connection with the appeal to the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Justice suspended the activity of the Religious Organization “Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Center in Russia” and its local religious organizations .
Since the right to freedom of conscience is realized by individuals through joint participation in some form of activity of religious associations and is expressed in the possibility to carry out joint actions for the realization and dissemination of their convictions, the closure of religious organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses will lead to a restriction of the freedom of conscience of tens of thousands of citizens of the Russian Federation professing the teaching Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Despite our differences with regards to the religious sphere, namely the theological positions of the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses and certain practices, we express our deep concern about the situation of the religious organization “Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Center in Russia” concerning their ability to exercise their constitutional rights to freedom of conscience and religion.
Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich! We ask you, as guarantor of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, to protect the right of freedom of conscience of citizens of the Russian Federation and to prevent the closure of religious organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
With respect and prayer for you,
Chairman of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists,
Please pray that churches would retain their freedom to worship in Russia.