Missionaries Face Fines for Sharing Their Faith

December 3, 2009

Author: Alexander Bratersky

Source: The Moscow Times


Ordinary believers face fines for sharing their faith with strangers in the metro or on the street under amendments drafted by the Justice Ministry that are stirring worries among Protestant groups about a clampdown on religious freedom.

Under the proposed changes to the Law on Religious Activity, only leaders of registered religious groups and their officially authorized missionaries would be allowed to pass out religious literature, preach and talk about their faith in public, according to a draft of the amendments published in Kommersant on Wednesday.

Anyone else who shares their faith would face a fine of 2,000 rubles to 5,000 rubles ($65 to $170) for individuals and 5,000 rubles to 7,000 rubles ($170 to $230) for legal entities.

Currently, no permits are required for missionary activities.

The amendments are expected to benefit the dominant Russian Orthodox Church, which rarely engages in missionary work, to the detriment of other Christian groups, which it regularly accuses of poaching believers.