September 29, 2012 by stgilbertinkz
When Makset fled Uzbekistan in 2007, he was wanted on felony charges. His wanted poster has appeared and continues to appear in public places. He is even mistakenly–either unintentionally or intentionally– branded as a terrorist by Uzbek authorities. Why? What is his crime?
Simply, he had unregistered church meetings in his home. If you are an American Christian (and I’m not assuming that everyone reading this post is), then it must seem baffling that people that meet to worship Jesus Christ would need to officially register. It may even seem more baffling that an act like registration would be a difficult thing. After all, to use a car, I have to get it registered, to start a business, yes, that has to be registered through a legal process. And, for evangelical churches in America to provide tax deductible receipts to donors, there are various legal procedures that are followed.
However, in many of the former Soviet “Stans” church registration means you provide a charter to the government stating your beliefs, you have to provide detailed records on financial contributions, and (here’s the real kicker) you have to provide a list of names with complete information of the founders and/or members of the church. Over the past 20 years, the various countries in the region have increased the number of members required to officially register. In the earliest days throughout this region, it was 10 members. Now it is anywhere from 50 – 200 depending upon the country. I don’t know the current number for Uzbekistan, but it is within this range.
So, registration is a method of control and it is also an attempt to prohibit the establishment of religious bodies within the country. In addition, Uzbekistan has not approved a registration of a new church in over 5 years. If you were living in Uzbekistan and you wanted to gather with fellow believers and you even went through all the legal processes to register, you still wouldn’t legally be allowed to do so. On top of that, if you were doing evangelism, it is unlikely that you could begin meetings with an automatic 50 members in your initial gathering. Essentially, registration is a mechanism intended to limit freedom of religion.
Makset is a criminal because he wouldn’t, dare say, couldn’t register the churches he was a part of establishing. Is that dangerous? Well, not to public safety. Whether you believe a committed follower of Jesus is a dangerous thing that could bring about societal change and cause others to be upset with a choice to become a Christian, that is a topic for another post. My prayer is that Makset is free before I write that one.
Don’t forget, contact your Rep. It’s easy, some have already done so, take 10 minutes and get it done.