Tuesday, January 24, 2006

New Law on Religion, Take Two

I spent several hours in a very intresting meeting in Pristhina yesterday.  It was a meeting of all the American Missionaries in Kosovo to talk about the latest amendments to last year’s law on religion.  Last year (2005) the Governement of Kosovo spent a good bit of time drafting a law on religion that would,hopefully, protect the interests of the various religious communities here.  That law was passed by the parliament in 4Q of 2005, I believe.  Among other things it stated that to be a “religious community one had to have at least 500 members.  Soon new legislation will be introduced that changes that minimum number to 2000 members.  The status conveyed by this law will greatly influence a fellowships ability to do evangelism, to own property, to have the full protection of the law, etc.

We talked about the growing resistence to the Protestant community here yesterday.  Unlike the previous law on religion, there was no Protestant (Evangelical) representation at these latest talks.  The actual text of the law is also being kept private.  That is, copies are not being made available to the public or the press.  Third, the US Office in Kosovo, the US Governments official representative, is more and more ignoring the protestant community here.

Please pray for God’s direction relative to this latest law.  In an upcoming census citizens will be asked to declare which religious group they belong to on the census document.  My fear is that many will be too afraid to speak the truth.  Too much blood has been shed here in the name of religion over the last several hundred years.  Please pray that God’s people will stand up and (literally) be counted.

I’m also learning a lot about how different nations view law and freedom.  In the US we generally believe that we have the freedom to do what we want unless there is a law specifically against it.  In many other countries the philosophy is that you may do nothing except that which the law specifically allows.  It makes a huge difference, especially when it comes to a minority belief among a skeptical majority.

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