An appeal from christian churches in Belarus

Dear brothers and sisters,
This appeal was dictated by anguish and concern for the fates of over 50,000 Christians of Evangelical Faith and their families, the citizens of the Republic of Belarus.

We announce to the entire Christendom that most of the mass media, controlled by the state, in today's Belarus - headed by the Belarusan TV and Radio Company - employ most heinous methods in order to cloud and slander evangelical churches and set them against Eastern Orthodox Christians.

The citizens of our country are affrighted by the hideous stories about crimes by "sectarians-Pentecostals." The controlled by government publications equate Christians of Evangelical Faith with such destructive and detrimental for society sect as Satanists. And, what saddens the most, such mentality is being successfully planted into people's minds and bears fruit. One can observe an all-time base contempt of Evangelical Christians' conscience. Methodically and determinedly, in most reproachful and cynical manner, believer is being insulted. His highest sanctity is being desecrated - his religious liberty, the foundation and source of all other liberties. The holy of holies - personal and voluntary link of the soul with God - is being persecuted.

Here are only several facts. On 19th and 20th of April 2000 the Narodnaya Gazeta published an article in which a compilation of overtly deceptive facts is aimed at the formation in the reader's mind of "maniac-Pentecostal" figure, who is disrupting the foundations of traditional faith. On 26th of October and 2nd of November 2000 Belarusan TV broadcasted film Expansion. The film forces the idea that the protestants in Belarus are none the other than "hirelings of American imperialism and have a single goal-the destruction of Belarusan nation." The Christians of
Evangelical Faith are likened to Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin.

On January 11th a local newspaper Naviny Staradarozhchyny published an article which states that the "sect" of Christians Pentecostals sacrificed a man. On April 9th and 16th this topic became the subject of deliberation on the Belarusan TV in the program "Human rights: A look into the world." The host of the program claimed that "faith in God is used by the Protestants to cover-up the political invasion into Belarus," and called the doctrine of Christians of Evangelical Faith anti-Christian, their churches - "sects," and the Protestants themselves - "rogues." Direct summons to mob law were alternated by contemplation about what would be done with such "sects" in France, Germany, or Belgium. According to the host's opinion, any of these countries would obliterate such a "sect" in an hour, and the democratic press would have "hurl the "sectants" against and spread them on the wall."

Our believers wrote to the President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko on the 16th of November 2000. In our letter we stressed availability of the facts of fomentation of interconfessional dissension. One thousand nine hundred and seven believers, the law-abiding citizens of our nation, expressed hope and confidence that the President would guarantee the observance of their constitutional rights. We also appealed to the chairman of the National State TV and Radio Company in the Republic of Belarus Victor V. Chikin, calling his attention to the force-gaining campaign of slander and deceit pertaining to Christians of Evangelical Faith in the mass media under his control. The response in both cases was complete silence.

Unfortunately, the projected tendency to split the society on religious grounds just prior to the presidential elections has attained stable pattern. Threats of physical assaults are issued in address of our ministers. That is not the fault of Eastern Orthodox Christians or Christians of other confessions. We are certain of that. The full responsibility for the possible consequences we are placing upon the leadership of the nation that did not manage to bridle the destructive forces in our country timely.

"O our God! Will you not judge them? For we have no might against this great company that comes against us; neither know we what to do; but our eyes are upon You" (2 Chronicles. 20:12). We trust that you will share our concern and anxiety and will join us in prayer for Belarus, against the illegitimate activity of the government.

In brotherly love,
The Council of Bishops of the Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith in the Republic of Belarus.

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