Southern Religion

Uzbekistan: The banality of oppression

Viciously sly government pretenses at freeom of religion that favor some while oppressing don’t look like the hate crime legislation President Barack Obama signed this week. They tend to be bureaucratic and inane, like the Uzbek approach Tony Cartledge described:

The Uzbek constitution contains provisions guaranteeing religious freedom and separation of church and state, but a separate law restricts religious expression to groups that are registered with the government. In a thinly veiled Catch 22, groups not in favor with the government are not allowed to register, rendering their activities “illegal” despite the official stance of religious freedom. Reportedly, no Baptist groups have been permitted to register since 1999.

Using those dicta, Uzbekistan this week convicted three Baptists of running a kid’s camp, the way Baptists do. More specifically, they were found guilty of tax evasion (their church activity was denied the aforementioned registration) and involving children in religious activities without their parents’ permission (although parents know the camp is operated by Baptists), fined and barred from doing what they do (administrative and financial activity) for three years.

Banal in implementation and unlike this country’s endless struggle over how best to prevent government from sponsoring or appearing to sponsor religious activities, that’s oppression.


October 30, 2009 - Posted by | Politics, Religion, SBC

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