Christian persecutions rising in Russia

(Reuters/Maxim Shemetov)Patriarch Krill leading an Orthodox Easter service.

The number of Christians facing different forms of persecution in Russia is increasing, and the rise is bolstered by laws instituted summer of 2016.

According to RelevantMagazine.com, a number of laws, called "Yarovaya Package," were enacted last year, and such tighten regulations against various kinds of evangelical activities. Examples of these are mandates that prohibit missionary activities done outside registered religious premises and penalize religious discussions between a Christian and a non-Christian — even inside private residences.

A blog post from ChristianHeadlines.com defines the parameters that are used by the Yarovaya Law. Missionary work is defined as "the activity of a religious association, aimed at disseminating information about its beliefs among people who are not participants (members, followers) in that religious association, with the purpose of involving these people as participants (members, followers)," the blog stated.

Furthermore, the blog post emphasized that for Christians in Russia to perform their activities, the latter can only take place inside designated churches and other religious sites, excluding private homes. "The Yarovaya Law, which purports to be a counter-terrorism and public safety measure, prohibits 'religious gatherings in unregistered places,' restricts promoting religion on the internet, and makes it easier for Russian officials to deny entry into and departure from the country," the blog added.

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RelavantMagazine.com, however, offered suggestions as to how Christians from other parts of the world can respond. They urged other Christians to find opportunities to pray for other countries like Russia, noting that through intercessions, Christians will "catch God's heart for the whole world." They also encouraged forgiveness for countries where Christians face trials and tribulations, and egged them to explore by learning more about these countries and how Christians press on amid persecutions.

Meanwhile, persecution watchdog Open Doors explained in an article that terrorism was the main culprit which brought about the Yarovaya Law. "With an already violent branch of Islam within the country and an increase in attacks, the government has been forced to respond. And has responded with very a heavy hand." The law, which was originally an anti-terrorism bill, did not necessarily target religions or churches, but included provisions for the two.

Open Doors recently released their 2017 World Watch List, naming the top 50 countries where Christians faced the most number of persecutions, a list topped by North Korea. Russia was not included in the list.

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