Persecution Fridays – Kazakhstan – Pastors Fined for Praying

August 5, 2011 at 6:30 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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Kazakhstan: Pastors Fined for Praying

Two pastors in Kazakhstan have been punished for praying for others. Pastor Vissa Kim appealed then paid his fine in 2010, while Pastor Yerzhan Ushanov was charged just weeks ago.

Pastor Ushanov of the New Life Protestant church in the city of Taraz, was charged on June 8, 2011 with “causing severe damage to health” under Criminal Code Article 111 by the National Security Committee (KNB). The alleged health damage came after Pastor Ushanov prayed for Aleksandr Kereyev in a church service. KNB secret police then raided his church’s Sunday worship service on June 19 and search the pastor’s home on June 25. The pastor faces a fine of between 100 and 200 times the minimum monthly wage, up to 200 hours of community service or two years’ imprisonment.

According to the indictment police gave Ushanov, Aleksandr Kereyev’s wife complained that her husband felt sick after the “hypnosis” allegedly conducted at the church. Kereyev had only visited the church three or four times, according to church members.

“This is not the first time the authorities in southern regions of Kazakhstan bring such absurd accusations against pastors for allegedly using hypnosis, while in reality all they do is pray for the sick,” new Life Church members told Forum 18 News. “In some cases, the authorities have even demanded some of our pastors to obtain a special license from the health ministry for praying to heal the sick.”

During the June 25 raid on the pastor’s home, police confiscated two laptops, a hard drive, 150 DVDs with Christian material and about 20 Christian books. Church members also allege police planted evidence in the pastor’s home, including a book entitled “Modern Hypnosis” in Russian. The secret police also took 85 church members’ cards containing personal data such as names, history of their church, attendance, phone numbers and addresses. The police told the pastor to “change his profession, and leave Taraz for good, if [you] don’t want to get into trouble.”

“Now it looks like pastors will get fines for praying for the sick in churches,” a member of Pastor of Grace Light of Love Protestant Church told Forum 18 News after his pastor received a fine 100 times the minimum monthly wage after he prayed for a woman.

Pastor Vissa Kim of the Grace Light of Love Protestant Church in Taraz was fined under the same Criminal Code Article 111 for harming a woman’s health by praying for her. He was fined 141,300 tenge ($961), equivalent to 100 times the minimum monthly wage. Kim appealed his fine, but the appeal failed, and he paid the fine.

It is common for the Kazakhstan government to raid, harass and bring legal cases against the religious communities it does not like. Four other New Life denomination churches elsewhere in Kazakhstan were raided by police earlier this year.

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