Although religious communities in Uzbekistan would like to obtain official permission (to exist), as required by the state, all their applications have been blocked. Protestant churches, Shia Muslim communities, along with groups of other minority religious affiliation, have not only had their registrations denied, but now they are being subjected to subsequent fines, torture and other punishments.
In the case of one registering church, the members were called to the local police station after submitting their application. During the meeting, they were interrogated about their Christian faith and then demanded by officials to renounce their beliefs. Some churches have chosen not to register at all, since the process has only resulted in reprisals by the government. Considering this, those belonging to the Catholic and Russian Orthodox denominations have no plans to register any new churches.
A new federal religion law has been introduced to ease a few of the requirements. For example, the minimum number of members required has been reduced from the current amount of 100 down to 50, and no longer is there the need to obtain approval from local authorities. However, as all other controls on religion will remain the same, there are few expectations that the new law will bring about any real substantial change. To read further about the difficulties inflicted on Christians in Uzbekistan, go to our country report.
Please prayerfully uphold before God's Throne of grace the many church leaders in Uzbekistan presently facing threats of punishment and intimidation by governing officials. Pray that these opposing officials will recognize the importance of granting freedom of belief to all its citizens and, therefore, take more positive steps to abolish their repressive policies and practices. May all the churches encountering pressure because of the present untenable situation sense His boundless love, affirmation, wisdom and guidance, so they can not only overcome these trials but even flourish while navigating through the midst of them.