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Belarusian authorities continue to persecute religious denominations – Evangelical Reformist Church is liquidated

2005 2005-08-22T10:00:00+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Minsk City Court ruled to liquidate the Christian Religious Congregation "Belarusian Evangelical Reformist Gathering". Minsk City Executive Committee took the believers to court for failure to become reregistered.
Ala Salauiova, judge of Minsk City Court, dealt with the church liquidation case for an hour. She read the documents that the Christian religious congregation "Belarusian Evangelical Reformist Gathering" registered in Ministry of Justice in 1992 should have a new registered office on non-residential premises according to the new law. In two years that have passed since the law appeared the Calvinists have not filed any new documents with Minsk City Executive Committee.
Pastor Lipen said in court that God's judgment is what matters to him. He called the liquidation case a politically motivated order from the authorities. The priest also said that he boycotted the new law and demanded that the Calvinists be restored their temples that historically belong to this denomination: "We cannot acknowledge the discriminatory law. It violates the freedom of conscience. We need freedom and historic buildings (at least one of them) restored to us, and persecution stopped. We had all of our buildings confiscated. They confiscated everything and now they demand some legal address. I think that they know everything. They know about the history of reformation. They have done everything knowingly".
The world alliance of reformed churches in Geneva sent a letter to the head of the Belarusian Orthodox Church, which asked the Patriarchal Exarch to help with the recovery of the Calvinist temple in Zaslauie, which is now used for Orthodox worship. However, this attempt did not yield any results.
The reformed Christians have been in Belarus since 1553. Many temples have been built. In the 17th century during Counter-Reformation, Jesuits ruined several temples. Later on in the 20th century the Bolsheviks ruined still another few. The temple built by Governor Hliabovich in Zaslauie in the middle of the 16th century and two more in Smarhon and Kukhtsichy have survived. These were the centers of Reformation, where theological books were printed. Now the buildings belong to the Orthodox and the Catholic Church.
In 1625 Calvinist founded a gymnasium in Vilnius, which is believed to be the oldest educational establishment of Belarus. Over 300 years the gymnasium in Slutsk produced quite a few Belarusian scholars, researchers, public figures and priests. These people include the inventor of the modern Cyrillic font Illia Kapievich, the philosopher and poet Ian Belbotski, the writers Alherd Abukhovich, Anton Piatkievich, the Slavonic scholar Zarian Dalenga-Khadakouski, the doctor Anton Krasouski, the astronomist Vitold Tseraski, the politician and patron of art Edvard Vainilovich and others. The renowned enlighteners of the 16th century Simon Budny and Vasil Tsiapinski belonged to the Calvinist Church.
Today all over the world, the Calvinist Church (which is also referred to as the Evangelical Reformist) has more than 60 million believers.
Over the past years Belarusian authorites have closed down denominations which they have believed to be "sectarian".

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