Evangelical churches have come under severe restrictions in Crimea, and a church leader is warning Ukrainian churches will also lose their religious freedom if the Russians take control of their country.
‘Paul’, a pastor who’s planted many churches in the former Soviet Union, says separatists have accused evangelical Christians in the Ukraine of spying for the West and have confiscated their church buildings.
‘Paul’ – not his real name – is a partner of Release International, which supports persecuted Christians around the world. He says: ‘In the areas that have been occupied some Christians have been killed. They have been accused of being American spies.’
And he warns the situation can only get worse if the separatists gain more ground, judging by the experience of Evangelical Christians in the Crimea, which Russia annexed one year ago.
‘After annexation, Ukrainian churches [were told] they had no right to exist there,’ said Paul. ‘Every church has had to be re-registered. Some pastors and priests have been forced to accept Russian citizenship.’ Those who refused, he said, were forced to leave.
Release Chief Executive Paul Robinson says: ‘There has been a steady decline in religious freedom across the former Soviet Union in recent years. Separatists have killed Christians in the Ukraine, and the picture in the Crimea under Russian annexation paints a disturbing picture of the future for Christians in Russian-controlled territories.
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SOURCE: Anglican Ink