|Last year’s rank||41|
|Population||18 957 000|
|Christians||4 847 000 (25.6%)|
Christian freedom in Kazakhstan is severely restricted under legislation dating to September 2011.
Surveillance, raids on meetings, fines and arrests are part of the fabric of Christian life, with the authorities using the threat of Islamic extremism to tighten its control on religious freedom. The past year has seen a number of believers face fines for selling Christian literature and objects. The Russian Orthodox churches experience the fewest problems, as it doesn’t tend to initiate contact with the Kazakh population.
Christians from Muslim backgrounds also face opposition closer to home, from family, friends and neighbours. They could face house arrest, beatings or expulsion from the community. Local mullahs (Muslim leaders) also preach against them.
What changed this year? The past year has seen proposed changes to the country’s Religion Law, which will make it more difficult for Christians to hold gatherings away from state-approved places of worship. The revised law also states that anyone meeting outside registered places of worship will need the state’s approval before producing written religious material.
“This is a very serious charge and has difficult consequences,” John said. “We teach in our church to respect other religions. Our goal is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ without blaming or judging others. We’re still waiting for an investigation from the police. Meanwhile laws are changing in Kazakhstan. It will be much more difficult to meet in the future. The worst possible scenario is that the church will be closed, and several people may be jailed.”
John, a member of Shanyrak church in Nur-Sultan. His church was charged by the police in February 2021, accused of insulting the feelings of Muslims.
What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Central Asia?
Open Doors provides immediate aid to Central Asian believers when they are imprisoned, excluded from families and communities, and deprived of livelihood and employment because of their faith in Christ. Open Doors also strengthens the persecuted Church in Central Asia through things like literature distribution, biblical training and persecution preparedness training.