While it’s still too early to know the impact of the new Russian restrictions against non-Orthodox and foreign religions, it appears that these laws are creating a new kind of unity among such unofficial churches.
Idea, (Feb. 10), the German evangelical news service, reports that as a result of the new laws, several independent Protestant churches in Russia established in the early 1990s are joining existing church associations or churches. Under the new law, churches recently established through the ministry of Western missionaries are not allowed to have their own publishing facilities or training institutes. Thus, in joining such larger — and registered — associations, these churches are finding more ministry opportunities.
For instance, independent charismatic churches are joining the Association of Pentecostal Churches. Vladimir Ryagusov, director of the Baptist Bible Institute in Moscow, says that, if nothing else, the law is decreasing the divisions amog Christians in Russia. The news service adds that so far there are about 200 registered cases of discrimination against Protestant churches, usually involving building restrictions on churches.
(Idea, Postfach 18 20, D — 35528 Wetzlar, Germany)