Evangelic Churches Are Concerned with Attempts of Authorities to Limit Presence of Children at Ministrations
The clerics of evangelic churches are concerned with the frequent facts of the limitation of presence of children at ministrations and religious studies. For instance, in November 2003 in Navahradak the local authorities put obstacles to the local Baptist society in holding of religious studies. Children were summoned for “talks” by authorities of the schools they went to, prohibited them to go to church and threatened their parents with fines. By the way, even the present law about freedom of conscience demands agreement of parents only if their child that takes part in religious rites, is under 15 years old. It is not specified whether this agreement is to be oral or written.
There are considerable reasons to consider these attempts as a purposeful campaign. For instance, in October 2003 the Committee on Religious and National Cases filed a letter to Niasvizh District Executive Committee pointing at “cases of religious activity of a number of protestant denominations with excess of their statute territory, unauthorized religious measures in public places and religious education of minors without agreement of their parents”. Therefore the Committee recommended:
-- to activate the work of the commission on facilitation of the control of execution of the legislation about freedom of conscience and religious organizations;
-- to strengthen the control of the activity of religious organizations, first of all, protestant denominations (regular visits to ministrations and assemblies, meetings with the heads and the activists, prophylactic talks with explanation of the law, check-ups of the order of distribution of humanitarian and free aids, accountancy and execution of statutes, ministrations, rites and ceremonies for finding of the present minors that are present (educated) without the agreement of their parents);…
-- not to let violations of the present legislation (holding of religious measures, religious preaching and education by unregistered religious bodies.”
Information Department of HRC “Viasna”