Church leaders from six Evangelical churches in Turkmenistan have submitted a letter to President Gurbanguly Berdimukhamedov, asking to be allowed to register as official religious communities.
In March 2016, the government adopted a new Law on Religious Organisations and Religious Freedom, and as a result, all religious entities are required to re-register in order to operate legally.
However, despite the Evangelical churches’ attempts to re-register, they have found themselves continually rebuffed and have been denied registration by the Ministry of Justice.
As a result, church leaders from six Evangelical churches have collaborated on a letter, asking for their registration to be approved. In the letter, they request permission to open a Christian bookshop and ask to have their own buildings in order to meet and conduct services. Many congregations have opted to meet secretly in cafes and restaurants.
Their letter says, “We believers of the Evangelical Church, we citizens of Turkmenistan, have a great desire to contribute to our society and our land. We want to be involved in raising our fellow citizens spiritually. We feel sad that we are not having the freedom to express our faith and to share this with the people of Turkmenistan.”
A local source has said that only Evangelical churches have been refused registration. “The real reasons of the refusal of registration are never given. They just slow down the process and may refer to the application being incomplete,” the source said.
Unregistered religious organisations cannot legally conduct religious activities or establish places of worship, and fines are imposed if such activities take place without government approval.
- That Evangelical churches would be allowed to register, and would not have to meet in secret
- For God to soften the hearts of those in govermnent towards the church
HOW OPEN DOORS HELPS
Open Doors provides immediate aid to Central Asian believers when they are placed in prison, excluded them from families and communities, and deprived of livelihood and employment because of their faith in Christ. We also strengthen the persecuted church in Central Asia through:
- Literature distribution
- Training (biblical training, children/youth training, advocacy and awareness training, vocational training)
- Women's ministry
- Medical ministry
- Relief ministry
- Social-economic development projects.